The freedom of two South African fugitives of justice believed to be living in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) may be under the radar of law enforcement agencies .
This follows the signing of treaties on extradition and mutual legal assistance in criminal matters last year between South Africa and the UAE.
Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Michael Masutha and his UAE counterpart, Sultan Saeed Al Badi, signed the treaties in Abu Dhabi.
The UAE is made up of Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Fujairah, Ras al Khaimah and the popular business and tourism hub, Dubai.
While the primary aim of the signing of the agreement is to have the India born Gupta brothers arrested to be extradited to South Africa for alleged corruption, bribery and fraud charges, it appears that fugitives from South Africa living in the UAE, may have to find other places to hide.
Media liaison for the Department of Justice,Mukoni Ratshitanga said the agreement covered aspects such as torture and South Africa’s opposition to the death penalty. “The treaties will enable the two countries to assist each other in the investigation and prosecution of crimes through mutual legal assistance and the extradition of fugitives. He said the Department of Justice is negotiating similar treaties with Brazil, Mozambique and Cuba.
The wanted South Africans eluded the long arm of the law, several years after they jumped bail which was extended after they were convicted.
They are former police reservist Ismail Sheik, 45, who was dubbed the Blue Light Stalker and Farouk Mahommed Ally. Both men previously resided in Durban. Ally’s co-accused Lucky Meshack Ndimande of KwaMashu, is also on the run.
Police leads in the matters have reached a dead end. Sheik, 46, of Clare Estate, absconded after his appeal against his effective 21-year sentence (in respect of seven counts of indecent assault, one count of kidnapping and defeating the ends of justice) was dismissed by the Provincial Appeal Court in December 2010. He was convicted and sentenced by the Durban Magistrate’s Court of abusing his police reservist position and indecently assaulting seven women. The offences were committed in March 2007.
The only consolation for the State, which has spent thousands of rand to secure the convictions, is that the bail of the fugitives from justice (including the R50 000 bail which Sheik paid) has been forfeited.
Sheik was supposed to have handed himself over to authorities at Westville Prison to start his sentence, but absconded. Ally and Ndimande did not surrender themselves to prison authorities to serve their sentences of 10 years and eight years respectively after their appeals were dismissed by Judge Noel Hurt (now retired) and Judge David Ntshangase in the Provincial Appeal Court in March 2009.
According to the evidence, they had conspired in a R400 000 hit on Durban legal eagle Abu Baker “AB” Mahomed at his La Mercy home in November 1999. Another accused, Xolani Msani, was jailed for eight years. They were convicted in October 2005. A former accused, Qunnokwakhe Mbeje, turned State witness and spilled the beans about the hit which Ally and Ndimande had planned on Mohamed. Mbeje had testified that if he remained silent, the repercussions for Mahomed, Mahomed’s family, society and him (Mbeje) and his family would have been terrible.
It emerged from evidence that before he played along in the scheme, he had alerted police that Mahomed’s life was in danger. Police subsequently put a sting operation in place. Ally, Ndimande and Mbeje had driven to La Mercy on the pretext that Ally and Ndimande were there to see a customer who wanted burglar gates to be installed at his home. They were however arrested by police when their vehicle stopped at Mahomed’s property.
Police found an Okapi knife and a .38 revolver on them. In an unrelated matter several years ago, a Durban woman who was wanted for fraud walked straight into the arms of police officers at King Shaka International, Airport , after she disembarked from a flight from Dubai.
However, her husband, the alleged mastermind of the property scam stayed in Dubai and is still being sought by officers from the Durban Commercial Crimes Unit. When he was informed by the woman’s relatives in Durban that she was arrested at the airport he told them he is not returning to South Africa.