Police are paid by property hijackers – alleged kingpin of hijacked buildings

2018-01-11 21:34
(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Johannesburg – Alleged "most wanted property hijacker" Jonathan Constable claims he was unlawfully arrested and that the police are being paid by property hijackers.

"All these charges are only about the South African police going and misusing and abusing the criminal justice system of this country, and going and orchestrating and fabricating false criminal charges against me," Constable told the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court on Thursday. 

The packed gallery cheered when he made this statement, but they were quickly silenced by Magistrate Lucas van der Schyff. 

"Anybody who makes noise will be removed from this court," Van der Schyff warned. 

Constable took the stand early on Thursday morning to testify in support of his bail application in a case relating to two Rosettenville properties. 

He appeared alongside his co-accused Bongani Khathide on two counts of fraud, while the third accused, Kingsley Okwebe, was absent and is expected to make representations to the National Prosecuting Authority as to why he should not be prosecuted.

State's case attacked

They are accused of approaching unsuspecting tenants residing in properties around the city centre and introducing themselves to the tenants as investigators.

Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba previously said the men allegedly claimed the actual owners of the properties were hijackers and that the tenants should not cooperate with them and that they should pay their rent to the three accused instead.

Constable told the court that there was not a single statement implicating him in "wrongdoing". 

He said a warrant of arrest was issued without verifying the four elements of crime.

"Until today, the State does not have a single statement from any person or any tenant in those two properties that will confirm to this court that I, in fact, receive rental money from them."

Constable also told the court that he was the deputy director of a trade union called the National Immigrants Council of South Africa (Nicsa).

Cash payments

According to him, one of the organisation's offices was in Malvern, east of Johannesburg, and the headquarters were in Zwelihle, in Hermanus, Western Cape. 

Members apparently had to pay a R500 membership fee to get direct access to legal representation. 

"The members could either pay it into the bank account or on the spot. Most of the members paid in cash," he said. 

During cross-examination, state prosecutor Cobus Ehlers argued that the union was non-existent. 

"Sir, do you have any proof of the existence of Nicsa?" Ehler asked. 

Constable picked up a piece of paper and said: "Yes, number one, I have an appointment card, and number two I got the constitution of the Nicsa and this is proof that it exists. It is a constitution that has been drawn up by the national congress."

State 'all talk and no action' 

During closing arguments, Ehler said the fact that Nicsa was not a registered union was very suspicious. 

He said how the gallery reacted was an indication that Constable was a likeable guy. 

"Any person would be happy if you only had to pay a membership of R500. It is a form of payment that they can stay there [at the residence] and a form of protection," he said. 

Lawyer Dumisani Mabunda, visibly angry, told the court that the State's case against his clients was weak. 

"We have complied with everything that the court has requested of us. They have submitted all they can. They don't have a problem attending this case because they know the State has no case against them. The State is all talk and no action."

The matter will resume on Friday. 

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  crime

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