by Mfuneko Toyana | Mar 7, 2014 | News
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.
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.
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.
by Mfuneko Toyana | Feb 27, 2014 | News
The infamous “cocaine conman” finally met his match today, in the form of a Wits law student, who managed to flip the script on the fraudster and “con a con”.
The scam-artist was nabbed by undercover officers on West Campus after a Witsie too smart to fall for the ruse alerted Campus Control.
[pullquote align=”right”]”He said that he was selling the guy cocaine worth R19 500, and that if I helped him he would give me R5000,”[/pullquote]
Solaneh Sibande was rushing over the Amic Deck bridge to a law lecture when a man fitting the muscular and tattooed description of the “cocaine conman” approached him, asking to use his cellphone.
Sibande said he immediately became suspicious when he noticed the man was looking intently at his cellphone, rather than his face, as he approached.
“I need a huge favour,” Sibande recalls the man saying. “I need to use your phone to call someone.”
Sibande said the man then ushered him to foyer outside the chamber of mines building.
“He told me not to panic. He was doing a deal with somebody inside the building. He said that he was selling the guy cocaine worth R19 500, and that if I helped him he would give me R5000,” Sibande said.
Who is fooling whom?
Sibande agreed and handed the man his phone. As the conman went through the motions of his well-rehearsed scam, pulling out a bag white powder as proof of the merchandise, Sibande twice tried to covertly alert students passing by of the situation without showing the conman that he was on to him.
“I had the Vuvuzela articles about this guy running through my head that time, but I didn’t want him to see that I knew what he was up to,” Sibande said.
Not Napping: Witsie Solaneh Sibande fears the “cocaine conman’s” accomplice might recognise his face. Photo: Mfuneko Toyana
Sibande said he kept the conman interested long enough for Campus Control to apprehend him by lying, saying he was rural boy from the homelands in Pietermaritzburg.
Out of options
Sibande said he realised that he run out of options when the conman asked for his cellphone again, and told him to fetch the bags of white powder that he had he hidden in a nearby flower bed, while the conman waited for the supposed customer with money.
“I balanced the equation right then,” Sibande said. Sibande asked to have his cellphone back for short while. When the conman handed it to him Sibande went to reception and put a call through to Campus Control.
Three undercover officers who had been monitoring the situation and had understood Sibande’s signal, swooped in and arrested the man.
Campus Control security liaison manager Lucky Khumela confirmed the arrest of the cocaine conman in an email, calling it the capture of a “big fish”.
by Mfuneko Toyana | Feb 21, 2014 | News
Pap Con: Fake bags of cocaine used by the conman to get students to hand over their cellphones. Photo: Provided
A MAN claiming to be a Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) student was arrested on main campus Tuesday, carrying enough dagga to fill a medium-sized pillow-case.
The man was arrested in an undercover sting operation by Campus Control officers in plain clothes.
A second man, believed to be a former Wits student, was arrested on Wednesday, this time holding about 142 grams of dagga.
Both men have been handed over to Hillbrow police. [pullquote align=”right”]They watched as the alleged conman approached a first, second and then a third victim, attempting to convince them to hand over their cellphones [/pullquote]
The recent crackdown on drug-related crimes and other offences comes after Campus Control adopted a “zero-tolerance” approach to security, incorporating undercover operations and analysis of crime-trends data to combat crime.
Campus Control security liaison manager Lucky Khumela said it was the third time the second man had been arrested on campus for selling dagga, his most recent arrest being in October 2013.
“We arrested him last year, in October around the 13th of the month. He says they (Hillbrow Police) just released him without telling him why,” Khumela said. He would not say where on campus the men were arrested, for fear of jeopardising on-going operations.
Hillbrow police said the man would appear in the Hillbrow Magistrate’s court on Friday on the charge of dagga possession.
Khumela, recently hired as liaison officer for the university’s security program, said Campus Control would be following the police and courts on the outcomes of these cases.
“The courts must come to their senses, this is a matter of the future of our students,” he said.
In another development, undercover Campus Control officers arrested a man attempting to use a scam similar to that of the ‘Cocaine Conman’, reported in last week’s Wits Vuvuzela.
Wits Vuvuzela reported last week about a ‘cocaine con’ where a 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. The white powder would turn out to be flour or even mealie-meal.
On Tuesday, Campus Control officers spotted a man, fitting a different description than the one reported on by Wits Vuvuzela, attempting to con students out of their cellphones.
They watched as the alleged conman approached a first, second and then a third victim, attempting to convince them to hand over their cellphones but was rebuffed each time.
Finally, they watched as he approached a fourth student who fell for the scheme. Campus Control then swooped in and apprehended the man. He was handed over to Hillbrow SAPS and charged with theft.
Khumela revealed to the Wits Vuvuzela that the man is also believed to be operating on University of Johannesburg campuses.
WEED WATCH: Dagga seized by Campus Control from suspected dealers. Photo: Provided