Businessperson Sam Chabalala faces arrest after failing to appear in court
A warrant of arrest has been issued for Mpumalanga's flashy businessman Sam Chabalala after he failed to appear in court on Friday.
Chabalala, 25, was due to appear on charges of corruption, illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition, illegal entry, departing and remaining in the borders of South Africa, and providing false information to be granted entry into the country.
He was out on R200,000 bail which was granted in September. His warrant of arrest comes a week after he was granted bail for R500,000 in the Middelburg magistrates court on charges of corruption and bribery after he allegedly attempted to bribe a senior police officer to return his vehicle and make his docket disappear in the matter in which he is now being sought for.
Chabalala has posted a total of R700,000 bail since his initial arrest last year.
The state had opposed bail saying that Chabalala's nationality was still in question and that he had the propensity to interfere with investigations.
In opposing bail last week, prosecutor Adv Eric Sihlangu had told the court that Chabalala's real name is Gilbert Tachuona and that he was born in Zimbabwe.
"The department of home affairs has indicated that the applicant obtained a South African ID through misrepresentation," Sihlangu said.
Magistrate Hlengiwe Mkhabela said she granted Chabalala bail on the strength of him not having interfered with investigations in the matter that he is now being sought for.
"The state cannot prove that the applicant is a foreign national. There is no reason to keep him in custody," Mkhabela said.
"The state's submission that he is a flight risk can't be proven. The applicant has strong business and family ties in South Africa.
"He has also been attending court proceedings and abiding to bail conditions in his other matter. The applicant is aware of how strong a case the state has against him," she said.
After his release on bail last week, criminal law expert James Grant said Mkhabela's judgment considered whether Chabalala would attempt to evade justice and whether his release on bail would cause public outrage.
"I believe the presiding officer was led by the overarching principle of him being innocent until proven guilty. She considered whether he would present himself for his trial," Grant said.
Hawks spokesperson Cpt Dineo Sekgotodi said anyone who might have information on Chabalala's whereabouts should contact the investigating officer Cpt Meyer on 0714812977
Mshengu, as he is popularly known, shot to national prominence in July 2019 when he took a 72-car convoy to the annual Durban July horse racing event.
Pictures of his convoy of expensive cars, most with personalised plates with the name "SAM" went viral.