Undercover police arrested a University of the Free State music student who allegedly tried to sell a R60,000 cello which had been stolen from an orchestra that performed at the university’s concert earlier this year.
It is alleged that he tried to sell the instrument for R6,000 on Facebook and that people outside of South Africa showed interest.
Police spokesperson Brigadier Motantsi Makhele said the cello disappeared at the event in September when the orchestra decided to take a break and left their musical instruments behind.
“Upon their return after dinner, a professor realised that one of the instruments was missing. Enquiries were made to students regarding the missing cello and no one could account. A case of theft was opened and registered at Parkweg [police station] for further investigation.
Then, on Thursday this week – more than three months after the instrument disappeared – police received a tip-off.
“On Thursday, at about 11:00, the Parkweg Tracing Task Team received information about a person who was allegedly selling a musical instrument that fit the description of the one which had been reported missing,” Makhele said.
They followed up and were led to a house in Parkweg where the student lived, where they waited until he returned home.
“He was surprised by officers who requested to see the instrument. After going through the instrument which had been painted in a different colour, police established through visible markings that the cello was the one stolen from the university. The suspect failed to [tell] police why the cello was in his possession and was arrested,” Makhele said.
He is expected to appear in court soon on charges of theft and the possession of suspected stolen property.