Cops arrested in R1m extortion fiasco
There was nothing sleepy about the one-street town of Lusikisiki yesterday when three men, two of them policemen, appeared in the local magistrates' court.
The men, all from Pretoria, were arrested last Friday in a branch of Standard Bank where they had gone with a local businessman to withdraw R1million, allegedly as an extortion fee.
The three men were part of a group of four that allegedly tried to rob Lusikisiki businessman, Salim Moosa.
The businessman allegedly owes the South African Receiver of Revenue R12million.
The culprits had gone to his business premises under the pretence that they were Sars officials and policemen, and were there to arrest him.
Two of the four were real police officers, but the other two were bogus Sars officials.
The inspectors, aged 37 and 41, together with another man aged 45, said to be a car salesman, were arrested inside the bank. The fourth suspect escaped during the arrest.
It is alleged the two officers accompanied by the two men arrived in Lusikisiki from Pretoria on Thursday. They then apparently booked themselves into a local hotel.
The next day they allegedly went to Jabula Hardware Store owned by Moosa. They allegedly told Moosa he owed R12million in taxes and that he was under arrest.
The two policemen allegedly produced a warrant of arrest and told him that they were going to take him to Pretoria, where he would be detained unless he paid them R1million in cash.
Moosa apparently agreed and they all went to the bank to withdraw the cash.
However, it turned out that the bank officials in the sleepy town were wide awake.
Suspecting foul play, they delayed the transaction while alerting the police.
Local police immediately arrested them, but the fourth suspect managed to escape. He is still on the run.
Sowetan has learnt that the inspectors, who have been in the police service for 14 years, booked themselves off sick from work last week.
Police allegedly found the two in possession of a fake warrant of arrest.