Property developer arrested over bizarre bomb threats

2017-07-17 12:02
A warrant for the arrest of Marianne Heafield, wife of Bruce Heafield, is still pending. (Supplied, Netwerk24)

A warrant for the arrest of Marianne Heafield, wife of Bruce Heafield, is still pending. (Supplied, Netwerk24)

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Pretoria - A Midrand property developer has been arrested at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg in connection with a series of bizarre bomb threats in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Cape Town.

Bruce Heafield, 73, had just arrived in the country from his family's villa in France when he was arrested on charges of intimidation and incitement to commit murder, Netwerk24 reported.

It is claimed that Heafield, his wife, and another suspect are responsible for about 60 bomb threats in the name of Islamic terror groups which resulted in heavy losses at shopping malls last year. In each case, the mall had to be evacuated, but no bombs were found.

In one of the threats, to the Mall of Africa in Midrand, the message read: "Allah will praise us. Today you will meet your own God in fire."

In another message the black ISIS flag was used.

Private investigators

The Heafields were linked to the case after private investigators identified computers from which the threatening mails had been sent. 

In April this year, police and the PIs raided the Heafields’ offices and seized computers and cellphones.  

The Heafields left the country soon after that and warrants of arrest were issued for Heafield, his wife Marianne and a third suspect, who is thought to be in the Philippines.

When Heafield appeared in the Randburg Magistrate's Court, it was claimed that his wife was ill and was being treated in France.

He was freed on R100 000 bail after being held for a week.

Death threats

Mark Corbett, the CEO of Century Property, who owns several of the malls which were targeted, also received death threats.

He said in a statement that the arrest of a suspect was of scant consolation to his family.

"Our family is living in fear again. We have no idea what will happen next. The whole situation is leaving us scared and uncertain.

"We still don't know what the reason is behind this and why we and our children are being targeted with bomb and other threats," the statement read.

The Heafields and Century Property had previously been involved in a dispute over the sale of property. However, the issue had been resolved long ago.

The threats began after that. The Corbett family appointed bodyguards and took special safety precautions.

Spat with tenant

Catherine Deare claimed she and her partner had to flee after a spat with the Heafields.

That was after a property Deare was renting from the Heafields was damaged during a storm. 

The problems started after she had lodged a case against the Heafields with the Housing Tribunal.

Marianne, it is claimed, at one stage parked a trailer in front of the entrance to the property and sat on it to stop them from fleeing.

Deare says she was warned by email "to look over her shoulder", emails were sent to the horse riding community in which she was accused of stealing saddles, and letting agents were warned that she didn’t pay her rent.

After she'd decided to move, her telephone number was placed in a local newspaper with an advertisement that she was looking for people to employ.

"The following day there were hundreds of people at our doorstep."

Jassy Mackenzie, who writes crime fiction, says she also received threats of "a sexual nature" after becoming involved in a dispute with a member of the family on Facebook.

Read more on:    pretoria  |  johannesburg  |  crime

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