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Syndicate accused back in court

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The accused are facing an array of charges including fraud, extortion, kidnapping and impersonating a police official

HELPING HAND: Isak Cupido is assisted by co-accused Jan van Wyk in the Kimberley Magistrates Court yesterday after the accuseds bail application had to be postponed until today as Cupido had to receive medical treatment for a pre-existing condition. Picture: Soraya Crowie

THE BAIL application of seven accused believed to be linked to a nationwide criminal syndicate is expected to continue this morning after yesterday’s proceedings saw further delays and additional threats made against journalists.

The accused – Trevor Mohapi, Andrew George, Isak Cupido, Wouter Viljoen, James Chimboyo, Frank Mangaliso, Andre Pillay and Jan van Wyk – will return to the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court this morning after their application had to be put on hold in order for Cupido to receive medical treatment for a pre-existing condition.

While this development meant that little progress could be made in the application itself, yesterday’s appearance was not without incident as the accused again threatened to break journalists’ equipment and to inflict physical harm if any photos were taken of them.

Members of the SAPS, serving as court orderlies, had to intervene as the bail applicants accused media of violating their constitutional rights before being lead back to the cells, hurling threats as they retreated down the stairs.

The accused are facing an array of charges including fraud, extortion, kidnapping and impersonating a police official and are suspected of being part of a syndicate that has been operating throughout the Province and in other parts of the country.

During a previous appearance, Cupido, a convicted thief and fraudster, requested that the court accommodate his medical needs, stating that he had to undergo dialysis on daily basis, which had been a problem while he was in custody.

Last month, the application was remanded to this week after the links between the accused and cases currently before various magistrates throughout the Province were explained to the court by the investigating officer (IO), Warrant Officer Bongani Msuthwa, who testified that the accused and others operated as a “network of individuals with a common purpose”.

According to testimony from one of the complainants, Cupido presented himself as the managing director of Transnet who was offering a R50 million tender for renovations in exchange for three payments of R25 000 each.

The IO also listed instances where dubious diamond dealings were used to lure victims including one complainant who was driven to a bank in Britstown, allegedly by the accused, and made to hand over R45 000.

Msuthwa is scheduled to continue this morning after the bail application was put off in order for Cupido, who required the assistance of his co-accused to enter and exit the court yesterday, to be transported to the Kimberley Hospital for dialysis treatment.