Student arrested at OR Tambo with R9m ditches lawyer at last minute

Fayrooz Saleh was arrested with more than R9m in bundles of US dollars in her backpack as she was trying to depart for Hong Kong in September 2018.
Fayrooz Saleh was arrested with more than R9m in bundles of US dollars in her backpack as she was trying to depart for Hong Kong in September 2018.
Image: Facebook/Fayrooz Saleh

At the 11th hour, the South African student accused of trying to smuggle about R9m in US dollars through OR Tambo International Airport has decided to change lawyers.

This delayed proceedings in the Kempton Park Magistrate's Court on Monday.

The court has since postponed the case against Fayrooz Saleh to Wednesday to allow her new lawyer to be briefed.

The case against the 22-year-old has faced several disruptions, with the last postponement being because her then lawyer, Ori Moloi, was travelling abroad, leaving his stand-in to request a postponement on his behalf.

Magistrate Veena Krishna had expressed her disapproval of Moloi, saying it was "unacceptable".

Saleh was arrested at the airport on September 11, 2018 as she was about to depart for Hong Kong.

According to court documents‚ she was stopped by revenue service (Sars) officials who opened her luggage in her presence and found $630‚700 in cash (about R9m). When questioned‚ Saleh said she was heading to Hong Kong to buy goods.

She appeared in court shortly after her arrest and said she could afford bail of R10‚000. The court granted R20‚000 bail.

Following her arrest‚ Sars said in a statement that Saleh initially denied having the currency but when questioned further she admitted to having a substantial sum of money in her backpack.

"She admitted that she was not the owner of the currency‚ nor could she provide any proof of ownership‚" said Sars.

She is charged with contravening the Customs and Excise Act and the Prevention of Organised Crime Act. The state says she obtained the cash unlawfully through the proceeds of crime.

She has no previous convictions.


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