Cape Town – Two Moroccan brothers, arrested six months after they allegedly robbed a V & A Waterfront jewellery store of goods worth R15m, appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday. Zakaria and Almahdi Alam, aged 32 and 28, were to have brought a combined bail application on Wednesday before Magistrate Vusi Mlangu, but the proceedings were postponed to January 25 so that an interpreter could be found. They face charges of aggravated robbery, the illegal possession of a firearm and possession of 500 grams of hashish (dagga). On the robbery charge, Advocate Esna Erasmus, of the Western Cape Directorate for Public Prosecutions, alleges that they robbed Harris Jewellers in June last year by threatening a staff member with a firearm. Erasmus alleges they were in illegal possession of a firearm between June 9 and December 18 last year. The hashish was found at their Table View home on December 18 – the day they were arrested. Erasmus told the court the robbery count was a Schedule 6 offence, which meant the brothers had to persuade the court their release on bail was in the interests of justice. Defence attorneys William Booth, for the older brother, and Keith Gess, for the younger, told the court that both brothers in fact understood English. However, they would be required to testify during the bail proceedings, which meant they would also be subjected to cross-examination. To avoid any confusion or misunderstandings during cross-examination, it was in their interests to engage an interpreter.
Fin24 – SAPA
Cape Town – Malaysian loan sharks forced Malaysian money borrowers to fly to South Africa to buy items with cloned credit cards, the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court heard on Monday. Before Magistrate Amrith Chabillal were Low Soon Seng, 30, who pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit fraud, and Moh Yens Kit, also 30, and Liew Weng Heng, 41, both of whom also pleaded guilty to the conspliracy charge, as well as fraud. Defence attorney Keith Gess told the court Kit and Heng had struggled to repay loans given them at excessive interest rates, and had been under “severe pressure from the loan sharks”. Because Kit and Heng were unable to speak English, they had persuaded their friend Seng, who could speak English, to accompany them, on the understanding that Seng would only get free hotel accommodation and a free return flight to South Africa, but no payment, for the venture. Seng had seen the venture as a free trip to a foreign country. Prosecutor Simon Leope told the court the three had arrived in South Africa on May 20. According to Gess, they had gone to a jewellery shop at the Canal Walk mall on the N1 highway the very next day, where Kit and Heng each bought an Omega wrist watch worth a total of R88000 with the forged cards. Gess said the three were arrested the same day in a taxi, but had left the watches in the vehicle. They had been unable to track down the taxi operator to recover the watches, Gess said. Gess said Kit was an unemployed hospital chef, and that Seng’s electrical business in Malaysia, and Heng’s flooring business, had been hard-hit by the recession, rendering them unable to repay their loans. The men are to be sentenced on October 13.