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Visually impaired widow conned E100 000

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MBABANE – A visually impaired widow of Ludzeludze has been reportedly conned E100 000 by a relative who said the money was for opening a trucking business.

Zanele Malangwane (née Hlophe) was reportedly approached by a relative in 2007 who told her of a business opportunity they could venture into as partners but which required her to pay E100 000 as contribution for start-up capital.

Private investigator Hunter Shongwe, who has been roped in by Hlophe to help recoup the money, said his client deposited the money into a South African bank in Benoni that is owned by the alleged conman.The suspect’s name cannot be disclosed for now as he has not been charged by the police.

"Zanele Hlophe told my office that she last saw the alleged conman in January 2007 after she had wired the money. The relative then left Swaziland which made it difficult for Hlophe to contact him. She says she was told by somebody that he now lived in Daveyton," Shongwe said.

The investigator said Hlophe went to South Africa, where she reported to the Daveyton Police Station that she was looking for the conman - who was found to be using another surname. "The man arrived at the police station with his lawyer and the police did not want to entertain the matter further except that they asked the conman what he was willing to do with the matter at hand," Shongwe alleged.

He said the lawyer quickly suggested that an agreement be made in which the relative acknowledged the E100 000 debt and promised to repay it in instalments within six months. "was told to sign that agreement but because of her being blind she signed something completely different to what she was told. The agreement she was made to sign was that she contributed a sum of E100 000 as part of start-up capital and the conman has a contract as part of his contribution," Shongwe said.

He said Hlophe only discovered on her return to Swaziland that the agreement she had signed did not mention anything about being repaid her money.

"Zanele was even more worried, as she realised that the conman would never pay her money back and therefore enlisted my services and I agreed to handle her case," Shongwe said.

The private investigator’s services were enlisted on September, 10, 2010, when she told him that the suspected conman would be in the country over the same weekend to attend a funeral at Mhlosheni, his home.

Indeed, Shongwe confirmed the presence of the man and then informed the Nhlangano and Hluthi police, who proceeded to his homestead, where High Court Judge Justice Nkululeko Hlophe pleaded on his behalf.

"Judge Hlophe addressed the police, saying that they should not arrest the man as the funeral was in progress and that as soon as the funeral was over he undertook to bring him to the Hluthi police personally," Shongwe said.

He said the judge brought him to the Hluthi police station after 3pm and the suspect was taken to the Manzini police station pending investiga-tions.

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