Fugitive is Hale, but not hearty

2013-11-30 00:00

JOURNALISTS for the UK Sun newspaper have tracked alleged Pietermaritzburg fraudster Mike Hale down to a rural hide-out in Cornwall.

Hale, previously a Pietermaritzburg insurance salesman, has been wanted by police since he left the country in 2009. He faces 45 counts of fraud involving R20 million of investors’ money.

Speaking to Weekend Witness yesterday, Sun reporter Alex West said when he approached Hale’s home, Hale pressed his face to the window, nervously looking to see who was approaching.

“He was fairly relieved I wasn’t the police, but not so relieved when he realised I was a reporter. He knew what it was all about.”

Hale had been nervous and “very sheepish”, said West.

He said Hale was living “in the middle of nowhere” in a converted barn with sheep roaming around and a pigsty in the garden. He said there was no address as such.

West said Hale had been tracked down by a fellow journalist who had used old fashioned journalistic techniques by asking people on the streets if they knew of Hale’s whereabouts. He is apparently living with a woman by the name of Helen, with whom he may be romantically linked.

“He wouldn’t say too much. I got the impression it all went wrong. It all got on top of him. He said there were a lot of people involved.

“He was timid and quite nervous. He looked like a man on the run. He’s afraid.”

Asked if police had contacted him to find out Hale’s whereabouts, he said no police had been in contact with him after the article was published in the UK. “I think the police know where he is. I can’t understand why they haven’t arrested him.”

West gave credit to a freelance photographer Mike Thomas whose “proper old-fashioned” journalistic skills had tracked Hale to his home at Blackrock near Praze-an-Beeble.

Speaking to Weekend Witness yesterday, Thomas said he had first been tipped off by a source in Portreath village that Hale had been living there. He knocked on doors asking people for sightings of Hale until he found Hale’s previous landlord.

“He arrived in 2009 with no credit file and only a suitcase. The landlord, who asked not to be identified, helped set Hale up with a British bank account and a curriculum vitae so he could apply to a teaching agency.”

In 2010, Hale moved on to his new address in a rented “converted cowshed” at Blackrock near Camborne. “He drives a BMW, not too old and not too new. He’s not working and he looked very suspicious,” said Thomas. He added that it was difficult to hide in Cornwall, as it was such a small area. He said that Hale told them he left South Africa under stress and said the less he said, the better.

The Sun quoted Hale saying, “I’m not in the wrong. People over there were. I’m very upset. My lawyers are on it.”

When asked if police were following up the lead from the UK newspaper and if Hale had been arrested yet, Paul Ramaloko, spokesperson for the Hawks, said he would revert to Weekend Witness with an update. No response was received at the time of going to press.

The Witness recently revealed that Hale had been working as a temporary teacher in Cornwall and his past had been unmasked after a pupil Googled him and found Witness articles detailing his alleged runner with investors’ money.

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