The law caught up with the culprit. The man who allegedly lured more than 200 people to Tshwane, and conned them into believing they were there to take part in a military recruitment workshop, has appeared in the Pretoria North Magistrate’s Court on charges of fraud.
The 237 people, who were allegedly conned into coming to Tshwane with the promise of being recruited into the South African National Defence Force, were rescued by the Gauteng government in Wonder Park on Tuesday, said the provincial social development department.
The suspect was arrested in Tshwane by Akasia police on Tuesday.
The suspect, known as “General Ndaba”, allegedly conned the people into paying exorbitant sums of money for training and enlisting in the SANDF.
“These people have been there since last year. They are adults of various ages. The man who has been recruiting told the victims he provides workshops for people to be recruited to the military,” department spokesperson Mbangwa Xaba told News24.
“The victims, most of whom are below the age of 30, were recruited mostly from the KwaZulu-Natal province. They reportedly paid R300 for their registration, R1 800 for training, as well as R200 per month since last year for lodging.”
“They claim to have been trained as military war veterans under Amabutho Royal Defence, in order to be integrated in the SANDF.”
Xaba said the SANDF did not use middlemen to recruit people.
According to the department, the suspect was a former general in the SANDF.
SANDF spokesperson Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi confirmed that “General Ndaba” had a military background, but that he was no longer employed by the SANDF.
“He was a member of the SANDF before the integration,” Mgobozi.
Mgobozi could not immediately confirm what “General Ndaba’s” rank was before he left the military.
The Gauteng department of social development had enlisted the help of 22 social workers and social auxiliary workers – assisted by the Akasia police, the local community policing forum and members the community – to help the victims and provide them with food.
“They were all taken to the Salvation Army in Akasia for accommodation last night and will be repatriated to their homes from today,” Xaba said at the time.
National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Advocate Luvuyo Mfaka said the matter had been postponed to July 5 for a formal bail application.