News / South Africa

Melissa Nel
5 minute read
5 Jul 2018
3:32 pm

Witbank police urge foreign nationals to open cases

Melissa Nel

Police are urging victims of fraud by a man driving a Polo to come forward.

Photo for illustration. Photo: Jason Milford

Police are urging foreign nationals who have been victims of fraud by a man driving a silver Polo to come forward, reports Witbank News.

The driver of the vehicle was arrested for fuel theft, but a kidnapping case, general theft and impersonating an officer case was positively linked to him after the arrest.

READ MORE: Hundreds of foreign nationals displaced after North West tuckshop lootings

Maureen Scheepers, operations coordinator of the SACCW (South African Community Crime Watch), stated on Tuesday, July 3, that they started a search for the man, after an anonymous tip-off was given to one of the response members.

“The member received the tip-off last week of a man targeting and intimidating mainly Pakistani residents. We started gathering information, but we did not have enough. On Sunday, July 1, one of our response members went to the supermarket in Mona Street when a man approached him, saying that a man was just there, wanting their passports or asylum papers, stating that he is from the police,” said Scheepers.

She added the member notified her immediately, and she confirmed that it was indeed the man in the silver Polo.

“I got into my car as it is in our area now, after previous reports were in the Klipfontein area. I went to the supermarket in Poplar Street where the shop owners stated that the man was just there. I then drove to the shop in Jackaroo Park and the suspect was there on the same morning,” Scheepers added.

“At Poplar Street the man posed as an immigration officer, and an employee told him that he must come back on a more decent time, not a Sunday.”

Scheepers said she went to the barber shop in Blancheville where she spoke to another man, this time a victim of kidnapping.

“The victim told me: ‘He put me in cuffs and told me to take him to my boss. He told me he was an immigration officer and a private investigator. I took him to my boss, and we had to pay him R1 000 to release me,’” said Scheepers.

She contacted the police, and they suggested that the victims open a case of kidnapping, which they did.

“We were then notified by our members that he [was] at a coffee shop at Riverview plots. We sent response members, and they heard him saying that he will pay his bill later after his card declined. He told them that he is an investigator with the police. We advised them to open a case at the police station,” Scheepers added.

“After Gavin Gates and Johan Bekker gave word that he left the shop, around 15 responders followed him. We changed vehicles frequently and followed him for about an hour. We updated the police the whole time. He drove past the old Dros, heading out of the Saveways Shopping Centre through the slipway in OR Tambo Street, toward the R555. Johan Blignaut assisted, blocked him in as a police vehicle was then part of our convoy,” added Scheepers.

The scene where the suspect was blocked in after he was followed for approximately an hour.

She said he was arrested for theft after he filled his vehicle at a garage and never went back to pay for it last week Thursday. She said when the man got out of his car, he enquired as to what was going on, to which Flip Opperman responded: “You’re a police officer. You tell us what is going on.”

“All the evidence found in the vehicle was booked in at the police station, and both above-mentioned cases were added to his initial arrest. A lady, presumably his girlfriend was in the car with him and a child. It is alleged that the silver Polo belongs to her. Numerous items were found in the vehicle as well as evidence that linked him to more than one incident.”

Some of the victims who were targeted were contacted, including foreign nationals at the River Crescent Shopping Centre

He said on Tuesday that it started last week Friday when the suspect went to a barbershop and he was assisted like any other customer.

“After the haircut, he asked my employee to show him his papers, because he is from the police. He has asylum papers which this suspect told him is not right and he wants to see the business paper. According to the suspect this was not right either and he was cuffed and brought to me. It was around 11:00. [T]he suspect also asked for business papers and told me we do not have clearance to be in a business,” said the victim.

He went on by saying that the victim showed the suspect all their passports and asylum papers, but the suspect insisted it was wrong and that they would have to pay a fine of R900 a person.

“We gave him R1 000 and he only left around 12:30. He made copies of our papers and came back the next morning. He kept on coming back, kept on asking for money. He asked one of the ladies for accommodation, and he came here around the hour, every day, until his arrest,” said the victim. “He targeted between five and seven of our shops.”

Captain Eddie Hall, media spokesperson for the Witbank police, said the suspect was arrested before, also for theft.

“It would seem that his reign of terror have been ongoing since 2014. Foreign national shop owners must come forward if the same thing happened to them. We want to know who the victims are and make sure this man does not carry on with his activities. It does seem that he targets the foreigners and asks for asylum papers and passports.

“Any police official must provide an identification card, even when in uniform. They will never ask for money to be paid on the street. It will always either be done at the police station or at court. If you are unsure whether someone is a police officer, contact the Witbank SAPS on 013 655 5052 to confirm an identity of an officer.”

Any foreigner who have fallen victim to the same person can contact the investigating officer, Captain David Mashego on 013 655 5038.

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