Police officer Wilfred Mentoor told the court he and police captain Siyaya Patrick Siyale had been investigating the scam, and previously called at a home in Villiersdorp where another victim had three similar lock-up safes, also containing pieces of black paper. Siyale, 51, and Mentoor, 29, have pleaded not guilty to charges of extortion (blackmail), corruption, theft, and defeating the ends of justice.
They allegedly demanded money from victim Nicodemus Solly Moeng, in order not to arrest Moeng for his involvement in the scam. They are on trial in the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court before Magistrate Sabrina Sonnenberg. Moeng, at the time the president of the French South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, was “very angry” when he discovered that he was victim of the scam, Mentoor told the court.
Earlier, Moeng told the court how he had been approached by Congolese men involved in the black dollar scam. He said he had done the “most ridiculous things” at their request. He said his statement to the police about the scam itself “reads like a horror movie”. “When I read it myself, I get caught between laughing at myself and crying.”
He said he was approached in August 2011 about an investment scheme in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The “investor”, David Kilato, told Moeng he was the only son of a DRC army general who had been assassinated, and that he (Kilato) feared for his life. Kilato wanted to migrate his business to South Africa, but needed a business partner’s help.
The proposition involved the transfer of money in what Moeng called “lock-up boxes”, but Moeng first had to invest R300,000 with Kilato, which he did. Moeng said he received one of the boxes, and was warned not to open it. He took the box to an address, and afterwards was stopped by Siyale and Mentoor. He said they went to his home where, he alleged, the officials confiscated R400 cash, and a digital camera.
Mentoor told the court Moeng only discovered the true contents of the safes when he opened them in their presence. Siyale asked Moeng how he felt about being scammed, and Moeng said he needed to make urgent contact with Kilato before saying anything. Moeng added: “I’ve already lost so much money, I do not want to lose any more.”
Siyale offered to take Moeng to a police station to open a docket about the scam. Moeng declined as he first wanted to “get hold of this guy”, Mentoor told the court. Mentoor added: “The victims do not want to expose the scam, or make a case. Both Moeng and the victim in Villiersdorp said they first wanted to do all in their power to get their investments back.” Questioned by prosecutor Denzyl Combrink, Mentoor said he did not hear Siyale demanding money from Moeng in order to avoid arrest for his involvement in the scam.
The trial continues on April 21.