Alleged property hijacking kingpin, co-accused denied bail

Jonathan Constable and Bongani Khathide facing two counts of fraud, relating to two properties in Rosettenville

Johannesburg – Alleged property hijacking kingpin Jonathan Constable and his co-accused, Bongani Khathide, were denied bail in the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court on Friday.

Constable and Khathide appeared on two counts of fraud, relating to two properties in Rosettenville, south of Johannesburg.

The third accused, Kingsley Okwebe, is expected to make representations to the National Prosecuting Authority as to why he should not be prosecuted.

They are accused of approaching unsuspecting tenants residing in properties around the city centre and introducing themselves to the tenants as investigators.

Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba previously said the men allegedly claimed the actual owners of the properties were hijackers and that the tenants should not cooperate with them and that they should pay their rent to the three accused instead.

Constable told the court on Thursday that he was the deputy director of a trade union called the National Immigrants Council of South Africa (Nicsa).

Rent 'disguised' as membership fee

Members apparently had to pay a R500 membership fee to get direct access to legal representation.

On Friday, the State argued that the monthly fee the tenants had to pay Nicsa was a rental fee disguised as a membership fee.

"Nicsa is not a group of people but Constable on his own."

Magistrate Lucas Van Schyff told the court that Constable and Khathide would continue taking rental money from tenants if they were granted bail.

Defence attorney Advocate Dumisani Mabunda argued that the men would not "run away" if they were granted bail.

"The charges they are facing today cannot stand," Mabunda said.

String of crimes

In 2011, Constable was arrested after he tricked home affairs officials into issuing him a car under the pretence that he was going to arrest illegal immigrants.

In 2015, he was arrested for masquerading as a police officer from the anti-corruption unit and demanding money from foreign nationals after threatening them with arrest and deportation.

He also defrauded unsuspecting business people in Musina of about R200 000, police spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said in a statement in 2015.

The current matter was postponed to January 24.