Police nail 'e.tv criminal'

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pretoria - Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa has confirmed that they have arrested one of two men who allegedly threatened to murder and rob foreigners during this year's FIFA World Cup in an interview broadcasted on e.tv.

"Our specialised unit, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations - the Hawks, in the early hours of this morning arrested one of the self-confessed kingpins in Tshepisong, near Kagiso," Mthethwa told a National Press Club briefing today.

Police were tipped off by an anonymous person of the suspect's whereabouts.

Mthethwa said the criminal in question has provided the police with "valuable" information detailing how this began, who was involved and the promises made to them. The man was out on parole for robbery.

"We can assure the society that more arrests can be expected, very very soon," said Mthethwa.

The two self-confessed criminals, featured on e.tv's footage, said they intended to commit armed robberies and murder during the World Cup.

They justified their intentions by stating that they simply view their actions as repayment for past colonial wrongs.

The ownership of the gun that was displayed in the footage remains a mystery but police investigations are at an advanced stage, said Mthethwa.

Anwar Dramat, the head of the Hawks, said Lucky Phungula, who committed suicide on Tuesday, was not the individual who appeared on the interview.

The man was a go-between who had put the reporters in touch with the self-confessed criminals interviewed, appeared to have poisoned himself and left a suicide note.

In his suicide note, Phungula mentioned that his friend, Mpho Lakaje, the journalist, had landed him in a "mess".

"The one is arrested and the other we are tracking, he is known to us. The guy who was smoking a joint [in the insert] and loading the gun was arrested. e.tv have not co-operated with us at all," Dramat said.

He said the man would appear in court within 48 hours and would face charges of contravening the Intimidation Act for their comments which could carry sentences of up to 25 years.

Mthethwa also said e.tv's repeated airing of this footage constituted gratuitous sensationalism, promotes unlawfulness and creates a climate of fear and panic.

He reassured South Africans and the international community that the World Cup would be safe and secure.

"We reiterate our commitment to hunt any would-be criminals who might be contenting similar threats, to refrain and suspend their thoughts ... we will hunt and find them. This is out commitment."