Municipal bodyguard held

2008-10-06 00:00

A bodyguard for Msunduzi Deputy Mayor Mervyn Dirks is one of the two men arrested yesterday morning and charged with kidnapping and extortion.

Both charges are believed to be related to drug-dealing at a city centre night clubs.

The bodyguard was arrested along with a friend who is a “known drug dealer” around Pietermaritzburg.

The names of the two suspects are known to The Witness, but they cannot be named until they appear in court.

Police spokesman Superintendent Henry Budhram confirmed that Dirks’s bodyguard was arrested and charged with kidnapping and extortion.

He said the bodyguard’s friend, who is not employed by the municipality, was also charged with the unlawful possession of a municipal firearm.

The firearm can be carried by authorised municipal employees only while carrying out their duties.

Budhram said it is alleged that the bodyguard and his friend approached a drug dealer from Durban to sell drugs on their behalf.

It is alleged that the seller could not bring the profits of the consignment of drugs, valued at R4 000, to his handlers after he took the drugs on credit.

He was then allegedly abducted by the two men during the early hours of yesterday and taken to a secluded place in Athlone where he was assaulted.

Budhram said that during the assault the drug peddler’s cellphone rang and when the caller learnt about what was happening he asked to speak to the bodyguard and his friend to work out a deal.

The caller, added Budhram, was told that R4 000 was demanded for the alleged peddler’s release.

He said the bodyguard and his friend were told that they would meet the caller at a petrol station and the caller would pay them.

The caller alerted the police about the meeting. The police then kept tabs on the transaction.

Budhram said the bodyguard left before the transaction was made and returned after the drug peddler was released and both he and his friend were arrested.

He said the bodyguard’s friend was found in possession of a municipal 9 mm pistol.

Subsequent investigations, he said, found that the transaction was related to drugs.

“Both the suspects are expected to appear in court [tomorrow] on charges of kidnapping and extortion, while the bodyguard’s friend faces an additional charge of unlawful possession of a firearm,” said Budhram.

Contacted by The Witness yesterday, Dirks said that he was shocked about the arrest of one of his bodyguards.

He said that he learnt of the arrest through the bodyguard’s wife.

“I don’t know what to say at this point. I will have to get the full story and after that I can comment. But as far as I am concerned he is a church guy. As far as I know he is a born-again Christian who doesn’t drink or smoke,” added Dirks.

Municipal manager Rob Haswell said the municipality will allow the police investigations to take their course, after which disciplinary measures could be instituted.

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