We track fugitive PMB fraudster

2013-11-19 00:00

THE Witness has done what the police have failed to do — track Pietermaritzburg fraud fugitive Mike Hale across the world to his United Kingdom hideaway.

Mike Hale, wanted in South Africa on 45 counts of fraud totalling R20 million, has been working as a relief teacher at schools in the UK, The Witness confirmed yesterday.

Once a trusted insurance salesman, Hale skipped the country in 2009 leaving a trail of financial ruin for many of his clients when he left with R20 million of their investments.

Hale owned MJCM independent brokers at 296 Bulwer Street in Pietermaritzburg, and had lived and worked in the city for over 30 years before doing a runner.

He left behind his wife Charma, whose valuables he’s also alleged to have stolen. She believed her husband was going on holiday to the UK.

His whereabouts have remained a mystery since — until today.

Hale, it transpires, has been working as a relief teacher in schools in Cornwall in the UK.

Pupils there have nicknamed him “Vinnie” because of his resemblance to cult UK actor and former footballer Vinnie Jones.

One of the schools approached by The Witness has informed the police of the allegations against him.

Another school confirmed that Hale had worked as a relief teacher on behalf of Concorde Supply Teaching Agency, but said they had no information relating to alleged activities in South Africa.

Sally Butler, corporate head of marketing at Cornwall College, was sent a photo of Hale and asked if it was the same man who had taught at the school. She confirmed it was.

One of the schools where Hale taught, Penryn College in Cornwall, sent an e-mailed statement in response to questions by The Witness yesterday confirming Hale had been provided by an agency.

“The agency had confirmed to Penryn College that all appropriate checks had been carried out on this teacher. As soon as Penryn College and Falmouth School were alerted of the allegations, both schools immediately informed both the police and the supply agency of the allegations made about him,” the statement said.

The Witness was initially contacted by a concerned parent of a UK pupil who asked if Hale was still wanted on charges in South Africa.

Contacted for comment, Hale’s wife Charma said she knew nothing about the new allegations.

She confirmed he has a teaching qualification from Unisa and that he used to teach at Alexandra High School.

His previous sales manager, Peter Steedman, said Hale had taught him at Alexandra High.

“He taught P.E. (physical education) and Geography. He was a hell of a nice guy and was well liked as a teacher.”

He had later left teaching and had ended up an an insurance salesman.

Steedman remains bitter about Hale’s disappearance. “I’ve been haunted by him. He must come back and have his day in court. He must go to jail and rot for the rest of his life.”

The Witness was also approached by a man who asked that his name be withheld to protect his daughter, asking about Hale.

He said his daughter had been taught by the man believed to be Hale. Asked if the man was Hale, he said: “It’s 100% him. I had my daughter sat next to me reading your story from 2009 with his picture, and she said immediately, ‘… that’s my teacher!’ He talked a lot in class about his water polo background and time in South Africa, and was random about details such as his age etc. … He seems a very bad man from what we’ve read online.”

The man said Hale had worked at two schools in the west of Cornwall.

“He was Googled and a pupil there discovered the story and passed it to a friend who was at my daughter’s school. The first thing she did was to post it on Facebook, but yesterday my daughter says he was in school — what’s happened today I don’t know,” he said last week.

Why is Hale not being pursued by the police and Interpol?

DESPITE previous articles in which The Witness quoted ex-Hawks spokesperson McIntosh Polela as saying that Interpol was searching for Hale, it appears that British police are not aware of this.

Interpol responded to a request for information by saying that if no red notice had been issued, it could be because the South African police did not want the search for Hale publicised.

However, The Witness spoke to Joe Head, spokesperson for Devon and Cornwall police, who said that while it had “come to light in the last few days” that a man wanted by police in South Africa was teaching in Cornwall, they had “no involvement at this point”.

“We have not been contacted by the South African police or by Interpol. We won’t make enquiries unless contacted by the South African force or Interpol if an arrest is required.”

He said contact with the man believed to be Hale would only be made if the word came for his arrest.

The Witness passed on the information about Hale to both provincial and national police last week.

However, by the time of going to press yesterday, no reply had been forthcoming on the state of the investigation or whether they would ask Cornwall police to arrest Hale.

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