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 conspiracy charge, as well as fraud. Defence attorneys 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.
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.
Verslaggewer: Jackie Pienaar-Brink
Somerset Wes – Die verdediging het gister die vinger gewys na die huishulp van ‘n dagmoeder wat daarvan aangekla word dat sy kinders in haar sorg medisyne toegedien het sodat hulle kon slaap. Daar word aangevoer mev. Monica Helm (62) van die Kinderland- creche in Heldervue, Somerset-Wes, het ‘n kombinasie van oor-die-toonbank- en voorskrifmedisyne gegee aan kinders van tussen drie maande en drie jaar oud. Sy het in die plaaslikke streekhof onskuldig gepleit op agt aanklagte van aanranding met die opset om ernstig te beseer asook die alternatief van mishandeling en ‘n negende aanklag dat haar dagsorgsentrum nie behoorlik geregistreer was nie. Haar regsverteenwoordiger, mnr. Keith Gess, het dit aan haar huishulp, mev. Angeline Carolus, gestel dat as daar enige gevaarlikke stowwe in die vloeistof was wat die kinders toegedien is, dit deur Carolus daar geplaas is. Carolus, ‘n staatsgetuie, het dit heftig ontken. Sy het getuig sy het in Oktober 2004 as huishulp vir Helm begin werk. Eers toe sy die eerste dag inval, het sy besef dit is ‘n dagsorgsentrum en dat sy ook daar sou moes help. Die kinders het soggens pap gekry, die groter kinders almal hawermout, en daarna medikasie – volgens Carolus pille wat Helm uit haar kamer gebring, tussen twee lepels fyngemaak en daarna met kraanwater gemeng het. Haar opdrag aan Carous was dat elke kind tussen vyf en 15 eetlepels daarvan moes kry “sodat hulle kan slaap”. As kinders wakker geword en moeilik geraak het, moes sy dit weer gee, het sy getuig nadat streeklanddros Marilyn Cannon seker gemaak het sy bedoel soveel eetlepels per kind en op een slag. Helm het daarmee gehelp en dikwels aan ouers gesê hul kinders was huilerig en stout, terwyl hulle in werklikheid net geslaap het. Carolus het getuig sy het soms agteraf aan die ouers probeer beduie dit is leuens, maar wou nie openlik praat nie omdat sy bang was sy verloor haar werk. Nadat ‘n ma haar toevallig in ‘n supermark raakgeloop en gevra het wat fout is, het Carolus met die sak patats vorendag gekom en in die gehim monsters van die medikasie aan ‘n ma en die polisie verskaf. Gess het daarop gehamer dat Helm en Carolus se verhouding versuur het, onder meer weens beskuldigings van diefstal teen Carolus. Hy het aangevoer ‘n mengsel van gemmer, heuning, water en/of melk en Panado is met ouers se toestemming aan kinders gegee, net as hulle siek was. Carolus het dit ontken. Die saak duur vandag voort.
Reporter: Fouzia van der Fort
AN ACCIDENT reconstruction expert will be called to testify during the trial of a teenager charged with culpable homicide, after his friend died in a car accident last year. Attorney Keith Gess, representing Nick Esterhuizen, 19, said they would also call an expert on road accidents to rebut the State’s evidence. Gess said the export would be available only in June or September. “At least three full court days would have to be set aside for trial,” he said. Prosecutor Thabiso Mhlebi yesterday told the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court that investigations were complete and that the State was ready to proceed with the trial. Magistrate Carmen Wyngaardt confirmed that eight State witnesses would testify and that the defence would be calling only two witnesses. Esterhuizen was allegedly the driver of a vehicle that smashed into a tree, killing bodyboarder Chris Elliot on July 2. The Staet alleges Esterhuizen was driving “at an excessive speed” without a valid driver’s licence. The teen also faces alternate charges of reckless and negligent driving, as well as inconsiderte driving. Elliot, 17, and another friend, Reggie Beki, who was seriously injured, were passengers. Elliot died just a few days before the Wedge Classic bodyboarding tournament in Plettenberg Bay, an event he was widely tipped to win. The teenagers were driving on Nova Constantia Road to get take-aways when Esterhuizen allegedly swerved to avoid another car, sending their VW Gold smashing into a tree. Esterhuizen was arrested on November 28, following a lengthy police probe. Yesterday, family and friends of the accused filled a row in the public gallery. The trial is set to start in September.