The man accused of being the mastermind behind a series of hijacked buildings on Wednesday accused Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba of “abusing” the justice system.
Alleged kingpin Jonathan Constable made the remarks during his bail application in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.
“I’m very disappointed at someone of the calibre of Mr Mashaba. He has been making irresponsible media statements‚ claiming that I am a kingpin of hijacked buildings and that I am wanted in other provinces‚” Constable said.
Mashaba was also present in court.
Constable told the court that he was arrested while trying to track down the rightful owner of two buildings he is accused of hijacking.
Constable faces charges of theft and fraud‚ together with co-accused Bongani Khathide and Kingsley Okwebi.
Constable and Khathide are applying for bail‚ while Okwebi has indicated that he will be making representations.
The trio were all smiles as they approached the dock from the holding cells. They looked at the public gallery and waved at their supporters‚ who arrived in court long before proceedings began.
During his bail application‚ Constable informed the court that he is a deputy director of a union known as the National Immigrants Council of South Africa (NICSA).
The well-spoken Constable also informed the court that he holds a national diploma in industrial psychology. He informed the court that he has numerous previous convictions‚ including robbery‚ fraud and reckless driving.
Constable said during his arrest in December he was informed that he had hijacked two buildings‚ one at 56 Albert Street in Rosettenville and the other one at 118 Marble Street in the same neighbourhood.
Constable said the two buildings he is accused of hijacking are properties he was investigating for alleged fraudulent ownership.
“I received a complaint from accused number three [Okwebe]‚ who is a member of NICSA. He said he was being sold either of the two houses and asked us to investigate who the owner of the properties is.”
He said Okwebe had told him that a Pastor Ike had informed the former that he was the owner of the two properties.
“I went to the deeds office and we established that Pastor Ike is not the owner of the properties.”
Constable said his investigation also revealed that a woman known as Grace was the owner of the house in Albert Street. Grace co-owns the house in Marble Street with a woman known as May Martin.
“We were told that Grace is collecting rent for both properties and was not issuing any receipts to the tenants. We also became aware that the house in Marble Street has 15 rooms at the back and that the building plans were not approved‚” Constable said.
Constable told the court that when he probed the matter‚ he discovered that Grace had fraudulently acquired both properties.
He claimed to have been threatened by the investigating officer of the case‚ whom he identified as Sergeant Nongovela.
“The investigating officer has showed personal interest in the case. He told me and accused number three that‚ ‘If you persist with investigating the case‚ you are going to end up with a bullet in your head or go to jail.'”
Constable also told the court that Grace was renting both properties out to nearly 60 tenants.
“Grace is harbouring illegal immigrants in those properties.”
He described his arrest as a “conspiracy” by the Office of the Mayor and the police.
“The charges have been orchestrated and fabricated. This is a disgraceful misuse and abuse of our criminal justice system.”
He said if he is denied bail‚ members of the community‚ especially those who are tenants in the two properties‚ will suffer.
“The community will suffer greatly.They will suffer greatly‚” he said‚ to which the members of the public responded with an affirmative “yes”.
The bail hearing continues.