Cops held for Shabangu extortion bid

ARTICLE BY KIERAN LEGG / CAPE ARGUS

CAPE TOWN – Two police officers have been arrested for allegedly attempting to extort money from the family of popular local musician Lucky Shabangu. This was after a theft case against the singer and his alleged co-conspirator was provisionally withdrawn last Friday.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) alleged the officers had posed as investigating officers on the case and demanded money from the family “so that the accused could get bail”.

They now face charges of corruption when they appear in court at the end of the week.

Shabangu, 39, and his co-accused Thobani Makuzeni, 35, were meant to appear in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Monday morning facing theft charges for allegedly stealing a Porsche worth almost R1 million on May 22.

However, Makuzeni’s attorney Andre Johnston, who initially represented both men before Shabangu elected to defend himself, said that last week he was informed the charges against the pair had been provisionally withdrawn and the scheduled appearance was struck off the roll.

This latest twist followed a court appearance in which Shabangu asked for his alleged co-conspirator to be let off the hook.

The State opposed bail for both men, saying Shabangu had a list of previous convictions, and that he did not have a fixed address as the State was in possession of an eviction order from his Hyde Park residence.

While the charges against both men have, at least for now, been dropped, Shabangu will still be spending the rest of the week behind bars at the Cape Town central police station. He faces a seperate theft charge relating to another case registered with the coastal neighbourhood’s police station, and is set to appear in court this Friday for his bail application.

NPA spokesman Eric Ntabazalila said that while charges against the pair had been withdrawn, police would still continue their investigation into the alleged theft of the Porsche.

The two police officers who allegedly attempted to extort money out of Shabangu and Makuzeni’s families will also appear in court on Friday.

While they have not yet been formally charged and therefore cannot be identified, Ntabazalila said that one of them was a crime intelligence officer.

Their appearance this week will include an identity parade.

News of Shabangu’s theft case has exposed a dramatic fall from grace for the double South African Music Award winner who was part of the popular boy band Twins in the 1990s.

During the State’s initial searches it was revealed that Shabangu had been arrested at least 19 times and had six previous convictions.

He was arrested last month after officers found him in possession of the alleged stolen luxury car.