Hammer-wielding robbers attack, shoot former Gaddafi banker in Joburg

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(iStock)
(iStock)

Cape Town – Slain Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi's banker, linked by the United Nations to the payment of $800m (about R9.3bn at the current rand/dollar exchange rate) into a bank account in Kenya from one in South Africa, was wounded in a shooting in Atholl Oaklands, northern Johannesburg, police confirmed on Wednesday.

Some international media outlets had initially reported that Bashir Saleh had been in South Africa for about six years and was wanted by France.

It was reported he was wounded on Friday evening – some media reports said he was shot while at home, while others said he was shot while being driven near OR Tambo International Airport.

The French publication Le Monde reported that he was wounded after arriving from a trip to Zimbabwe.

On Wednesday, national police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Katlego Mogale confirmed in a statement that the man was attacked on the evening of February 23 by a group of armed suspects on the Atholl Oakland off-ramp. 

Fleeing off with a laptop

"Using a hammer one of the suspects broke the window of the vehicle, opened the door and pulled the victim out of the vehicle," she said.

"The suspects allegedly shot the victim before fleeing with his laptop. The victim was taken to hospital for medical attention."

She said a case of armed robbery and attempted murder had been opened for investigation by the national investigating unit.

The suspects were believed to be aged between 30 and 35.

South African police had been aware of Saleh's presence in South Africa since at least 2013. Former president Jacob Zuma had also apparently been aware that he was in the country.

'Zuma suggested SA can't monitor Saleh'

In June 2013 then DA MP Tim Harris issued a press statement saying Zuma "made a shocking admission in his response to parliamentary questions in the House... when he suggested that South Africa is not able to monitor or prevent the movement of" Saleh in and out of the country.

At the start of June 2017 the United Nations Security Council issued a report by a panel of experts on Libya.

READ: UN report points to ‘Gaddafi millions’ in SA

This panel was tasked with, among other matters, monitoring the political transition in Libya.

It identified a bank branch in South Africa and Saleh as being involved in transfers of millions of dollars to a bank in Kenya.

'$800m payment authorised in SA'

"The panel has obtained documentation indicating that two large transfers were possibly made in the second half of 2011 on behalf of the Libyan Africa Investment Portfolio (LYe.002, listed since 17 March 2011), between bank accounts in South Africa and Kenya. The total amount transferred to an account at a branch of the CFC Stanbic Bank branch in Kenya was USD 800 000 000," the panel's report said.

"Documentation received by the panel shows payment authorisation by Bashir Saleh al-Shrkawi from a branch of the Standard Bank South Africa (sic)."

Saleh is also known as Bashir Saleh al-Shrkawi.

In 2013 DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard claimed Saleh had been seen several times in South Africa.

READ: Claims Gaddafi henchman in SA

One of these occasions was at the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) summit in Durban earlier that year.

She said the DA would ask the Portfolio Committee on Police to provide clarity on why Saleh, who was on Interpol's most wanted list, had not been arrested while in the country.

No extradition treaty

According to a set of parliamentary questions and replies dated June 25, 2013, then police minister Nathi Mthethwa had confirmed he had been informed of Saleh's presence in the country in February 2013.

Asked at the time why Saleh had not been arrested, Mthethwa replied: "The Interpol Red Notice is not an international arrest warrant which allows for immediate arrest. Once a fugitive is detected, a provisional arrest warrant should be requested and provided through Interpol channels, followed by original documentation between the competent authorities through diplomatic channels.

"Requests for clarity on whether this specific person is still wanted and to provide the required documentation were sent through the Interpol communication channel to Libya. These requests are still to be answered. There is no extradition treaty in place between Libya and South Africa."

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