Tricksters sentenced

Benson Ntlemo

Benson Ntlemo

The shady world of tricksters who pounce on unsuspecting people withdrawing money from banks was laid bare at Malamulele Stadium in Limpopo during the trial of three men who were charged with theft.

David Rapitsi, 41, Lester Mathonsi, 26 and Daniel Shivambu, 42, all from Tzaneen, were convicted of theft and each sentenced to three years in jail.

They were found to have stolen R3500 from Edward Mhinga, a pensioner and former politician who was the minister of education in the defunct Gazankulu homeland.

During the trial, they said Rapitsi went inside the First National Bank to monitor anyone withdrawing a lot of money.

It was during one of his missions that he saw Mhinga withdrawing money. He then went outside to inform Mathonsi.

Mathonsi followed Mhinga and smeared him with snuff mixed with Vaseline, which looked like muti. He told Mhinga that someone had smeared him with muti and that he could lose his money.

Mathonsi also told Mhinga he was lucky that there was a policeman nearby, referring to Rapitsi, who then told Mhinga to put his money in an envelope and give it to him so that it would not turn into papers.

The two then said they were taking Mhinga to the police station to make a statement but instead took him to a veld.

They gave him an envelope with "his money" and told him not to open it immediately. After they drove away he opened it and found papers. They were later arrested.