Student warns of con man using fake cocaine for scam

A Braamfontein student has warned others about being vigilant of a Nigerian con man who offers money in exchange for safeguarding his  fake cocaine.

Jabulani Makoko*, a student at the Auckland Park AFDA found himself in a scam earlier yesterday when he agreed to safeguard 2kg of what appeared to be cocaine.

Makoko said that he was sitting by the stairs of the building opposite the Pick n’ Pay on Jorissen Street, in Braamfontein, waiting for a friend.

After a while a well-dressed Nigerian man came up to him, saying he needed help.

“I believe him yeah! Cause hey man he has the money here and he has 2kg of coke, which you’re not gonna leave with anybody, that’s worth a lot of money! So I trust him.”

Makoko said the man explained that he desperately needed his phone to make a call to meet a ‘white dude’ who would be upstairs in the building.

“I believe him yeah! Cause hey man he has the money here and he has 2kg of coke, which you’re not gonna leave with anybody, that’s worth a lot of money! So I trust him,” said Makoko.

The man offered Makoko R500 to hold the cocaine which he would pay the student when he returned. Makoko says he was “desperate for the money man! I was broke. And the guy came up to me now and made it sound so legit, here’s R500 bucks in cold hard cash.”

Makoko then gave him his cellphone, and the Nigerian man made a phone call in front of Makoko. The Nigerian man then said he needed to move closer to wherever the ‘white man’ would be watching him and he moved closer towards the street.

Makoko now says that was ‘my biggest mistake.’

Makoko says he was too busy looking at the ‘coke’ anxious about what he had gotten himself into, and not so far away from him were two female metro cops. Makoko says that’s when he began to panic but decided to remain silent.

“What if this is something that could possibly go wrong and I’m implicated in this,” said Maloko.

After 20 minutes Makoko realised the man was gone and after 30 minutes Makoko said he began to believe that the man is not coming back. After an hour Makoko says, “That’s when it hit me that ok this guy is not coming back and maybe this is not real coke.”

When Makoko’s friend arrived he related the whole story to her and she said to him there’s no possible way that someone would leave that much cocaine with him.

After two hours Makoko checked the bag of cocaine to discover cake flour, he then called his phone and it had been switched off. Makoko said he had assumed the cocaine was real.

“[I didn’t] really look at it to analyse if its baking powder or the real deal. You just know if it’s a Nigerian dude, it’s got to be real.”

Makoko said he was still fearful when he left the bag of ‘cocaine’ where he had been sitting.

Makoko said that the same con happened to a friend in Milpark.

*Names have been changed.


VIDEO: The Scavenger Economy: A story of two young men on the streets of Johannesburg

Lebo Radebe and Sibusiso Chiba are two of the many homeless people prowling the city of Johannesburg.

They are scavengers for food, for drugs, for shelter on the bitterly cold pavements, for anything that can make their lives a little better.

Poverty and hunger have brought these two young men together.

They are among the more than 24 million people who go hungry in South Africa.  With unemployment and poverty levels rising, the number of people who are food secure could increase. While other people scavenge for food in the waste dumps and dustbins, Sbusiso and Lebo collect and sell scrap metal.

Although they support each other and look out for one another, they are not always in agreement about their value system as they eke out a life on the street.

This video is a production of the 2014 Wits Journalism short course in television. 

Cocaine conman snuffed out

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]

The approach

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”.

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Campus cops nab dealers


Pap Con: Fake bags of cocaine used by the conman to get students to hand over their cellphones.             Photo: Provided

Dealers snared

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.

Second dopeman

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.

Cocaine copycat

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

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