Where in the world is Mahlobo's alleged criminal friend Guan Jiang Guang?

2016-11-17 11:57
Jin Lu Chelsea massage and Beauty salon has closed. (News24)

Jin Lu Chelsea massage and Beauty salon has closed. (News24)

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WATCH: Rhino horn smuggler calls David Mahlobo his friend

2016-11-16 12:30

Rhino horn smuggler Guan Jiang Guang appears in an Al Jazeera documentary calling Intelligence Minister David Mahlobo his friend.WATCH

Mbombela - It is as if he vanished into thin air, friends and neighbours of self-professed criminal and alleged friend of State Security Minister David Mahlobo, Guan Jiang Guang, say.

Guang's spa in Mbombela, which was frequented by Mahlobo, remains closed this week, while he and his family apparently packed up and left their home before an Al Jazeera documentary, showing him talking about his relationship with Mahlobo, aired.

Some community members who have visited the spa in the past said they never suspected Guan would be involved in illegal activity.

"He is a nice guy. I call him my friend. It was a shock to me. It was like I had woken up in a different world. I still can't believe he is capable of all the things he admitted to on camera," said the owner of restaurant near Guang's Jin Lu beauty spa.

The restaurant owner, who refused to disclose his name to News24, said Guang's wife came to him shortly after the Al Jazeera broadcast crying.

"She was upset. She was crying. I know them and they are good people. That is all I can tell you."

Neighbour not surprised

READ: More pictures of Mahlobo with massage therapist surface

The beauty spa has been closed since Monday, people in neighbouring shops told News24.

According to an employee at a beauty spa several shops away, the Guang family shut their doors in haste.

"We just saw them on Monday locking the shop gates. It was the owner and his son. We haven't seen anyone ever since," she said.

She told News24 she was not surprised to hear the news of Guang's alleged illegal activity.

"I can't say I have seen the minister coming to the shop. I just didn't understand why a beauty spa opens until late. They close after 22:00. It's not common for these shops in the area. They had a lot of business and we now know why."

Guang's home in a gated complex is not too far from his shop at SonPark shopping complex.

Country reeling

A security guard at the complex said he had not seen the family since Sunday.

"It’s like they have disappeared into thin air. I haven't seen them in days."

Another homeowner at the gated complex said he saw the Guan and his wife packing on Saturday.

"I didn't think anything of it. I just saw the couple packing bags into a van. Its only after I read the Sunday papers that I put two and two together," the neighbour said.

As the news of an alleged link between Mahlobo and Guang has the country reeling, some Mbombela residents said this was merely a small glimpse of alleged poaching activities in the town.

Sindi Mlambo said she was puzzled by the sudden interest in Mbombela.

"There are several people who are poachers. This guy is not the only one in these parts. I know at least three people who are making money through rhino poaching but are disguised as business owners," she claimed.

Tumisho Ndolwane claimed he was once a manager at a small restaurant in Mbombela and was fired after he started asking questions.

"I knew there was something fishy... It's big business. This guy is just the tip of the iceberg. I don't care about him because he is small fish."

In the Al Jazeera documentary Guang openly brags about bribing South African justice and immigration officials.

Video secretly recorded by an undercover investigator shows Guang swiping through photographs on his phone that appear to show him and Mahlobo.

"He came to my massage parlour every week, or at least twice a month," Guang says. "I know him well … [He was] a guest at my home."

'Not a friend’

Guang said he knew Mahlobo well and that the minister had been a guest at his house. He also claimed that Mahlobo's wife was involved in their dealings.

Mahlobo said this week that a number of his "comrades, friends and high-profile personalities visit the Mbombela spa, take photos with Guang's family and some of his staff".

"Are these individuals now also involved on the illegal rhino trade? People drop names of high-profile individuals and take photos - does this mean friendship or connection? I don't think so," the minister said.

"I am not a friend of the guy, nor have I been ever to his home or have received any of his employees into my home. Finally, my wife has no business relationship with the man or his employees."

Mahlobo's spokesperson Brian Dube said on Monday that "at the time Minister Mahlobo visited the spa, he had no idea as to what Mr Guang was involved in".

"Minister Mahlobo has engaged a legal team to investigate possible defamation action against Al Jazeera, the publications; Mr Guang... for defamation and the reputational damage that this documentary and the newspaper articles have caused to the state security ministry and his family," Dube said.

Mahlobo said he requested that the Mpumalanga police commissioner investigate all allegations made against him in the documentary, that the commissioner take action against Guan for illegal rhino poaching activity, and look into claims by Guang that he employs illegal immigrants and circumvents immigration laws.

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Read more on:    david mahlobo  |  rhino poaching  |  crime

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