LESS than a week after being arrested by police, the suspected “cocaine conman” is back on the streets.

The man, whose name may not be used since he has not been officially charged, appeared in the Hillbrow Magistrate’s Court on Monday and was released pending further investigation.

Last Friday, the man was arrested after a Witsie pretended to be taken in by his alleged con. Before he could make a getaway, undercover Campus Control officers moved in and nabbed him. [pullquote align=”right”]the man offered R5 000 in return for allowing him to use his cellphone to call the person he was selling the “cocaine” to.[/pullquote]

The man was handed over to Hillbrow police and spent the weekend behind bars.

No case?

Investigating officer in charge of the case, Constable Nyiko Mbiza, said the case was taken off the court roll for further investigation. “We have his passport in our possession and we know where to find him.”

The arrest and subsequent release of the alleged conman was confirmed by Hillbrow police spokesperson Mbuso Zondo.

Zondo said police needed to conduct further investigations before the man could be rearrested.

“The case was thrown out for further investigation. He was charged on one account [of theft]. It does not mean that it cannot go back to court. We are waiting on the forensic report [of the white substance] which will take a week or two.”

The ‘cocaine conman’ has wreaked havoc on campus for over a year, using a cocaine-like substance to con Witsies out of their cellphones.

The con

Wits Vuvuzela reported previously about how the ‘cocaine conman’ operated. The man would ask unsuspecting students to use their cellphones.

He would then tell the students he was a drug dealer and needed to borrow their cellphones for a drug transaction. The cocaine conman would then offer a bag of ‘cocaine’ as security.

[pullquote]The white powder would turn out not to be cocaine but ordinary flour[/pullquote].

The man suspected of being the fraudster was caught last Friday after allegedly targeting a law student. The student had read about the conman in the Wits Vuvuzela.

Witsie strikes back

Solaneh Sibande said he had a “James Bond moment” after recognising the man’s physical description and modus operandi from articles published in this paper.

He said the man offered R5 000 in return for allowing him to use his cellphone to call the person he was selling the “cocaine” to.

“I wanted to make the guy think that he was killing it, so I told him I was from the rural areas and that I herded cows. He was testing my knowledge of Joburg.” Sibande actually hails from Benmore.

All the while Sibande was trying to signal passing students to call Campus Control, unaware that officers in plain clothes were watching and closing in.

Campus Control security and liaison manager Lucky Khumela told the Wits Vuvuzela that University of Johannesburg officials had reported a man fitting the conman’s description operating on their campuses.