. . . prom­ises cars, prizes in elab­o­rate scams

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Mo­halenyane Phakela

A SOUTH African na­tional has been ac­cused of dup­ing lo­cal mod­els of thou­sands of mal­oti after promis­ing them mod­el­ling con­tracts and prizes.

The man, whom the mod­els said used the alias Mo­kena Nh­lapo among oth­ers and claimed to re­side in Fouries­burg, also al­legedly de­manded sex­ual favours from the mod­els he lured to South Africa to en­sure they were awarded the con­tracts.

Five mod­els who spoke to the Le­sotho Times this week, but re­quested anonymity be­cause of the sen­si­tiv­ity of the is­sue, said they had since lodged a case with the Le­sotho Mounted Po­lice Ser­vice’s (LMPS) Child and Gen­der Pro­tec­tion Unit at the head­quar­ters in Maseru.

Ac­cord­ing to the mod­els, Nh­lapo used var­i­ous scams to con­vince them to part with their money. To some, he claimed to be a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers (EFF) in South Africa look­ing for a model who would be the face of the po­lit­i­cal party’s cam­paigns.

How­ever, to the oth­ers, he claimed to be an agent for skin and body-care brand Nivea hold­ing an ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paign in Bloem­fontein.

The con­man also promised them a brand new car, R100 000 cash, a lap­top and a smart phone if they clinched the con­tracts. They said Nh­lapo would even send pic­tures of the car and showed them its pur­ported regis­tra­tion pa­pers when they met to prove his claim.

After con­vinc­ing his vic­tims, the con­man would then re­quest money to clear the car with cus­toms at the Maseru Bor­der Post with the amounts rang­ing from R1 500 to R6 000.

The mod­els de­posited the money into the bank ac­count of a Jan­feke S Nh­lapo.

Upon re­ceiv­ing the money, he would then threaten to shoot the mod­els if they ever ex­posed or re­ported him to the po­lice.

The mod­els also ac­cused the Fouries­burg Po­lice of be­ing com­plicit in Nh­lapo’s ac­tiv­i­ties since they cer­ti­fied his af­fi­davits to au­then­ti­cate the pur­ported con­tracts. How­ever, Fouries­burg sta­tion com­man­der, Cap­tain Mbambo, de­nied any knowl­edge of Nh­lapo or his af­fi­davits but ex­pressed a will­ing­ness to work with the Le­sotho po­lice in in­ves­ti­gat­ing the mat­ter.

The mod­els said Nh­lapo used many Face­book ac­counts with dif­fer­ent names to dupe his vic­tims. Some of his known Face­book ac­counts are Mo­kena Nh­lapo, Thembi Maz­ibuko, Thandy Mo­lapo, Ma­fusi Nox­olo, Lucky Mbele and Le­bo­hang Mia.

How­ever, some of the Face­book ac­counts had been de­ac­ti­vated as of yes­ter­day.

Beauty Pageant As­so­ci­a­tion of Le­sotho (BPAL) Pres­i­dent Tlali Tlali told the Le­sotho Times this week the con­man also tried to dupe him in June last year but dis­ap­peared after he be­came sus­pi­cious.

“I was in­tro­duced to this so-called EFF mem­ber by a lady who said Nh­lapo was look­ing for a Le­sotho-based model whom the party wanted to use in their ad­ver­tise­ments for the lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions in South Africa. She said the model’s pic­tures would be put on posters and bill­boards in South Africa’s bor­der towns,” Mr Tlali said.

“He then called me to ar­range an ap­point­ment in Le­sotho. We had a cor­dial meet­ing and I agreed on a con­tract to pro­vide a model for the cam­paign. Nh­lapo told me he was go­ing to present the con­tract to his party for ap­proval and also showed me his party card. Nh­lapo also claimed that he was not only a mem­ber of the party but also its rep­re­sen­ta­tive.”

Mr Tlali said Nh­lapo later called him to say he had met with the EFF lead­er­ship and di­rected to sign the con­tract with the BPAL.

Nh­lapo also claimed to have been given the go ahead by the EFF to pay the ship­ping and clear­ance charges for the car.

“That is when I be­came not just cu­ri­ous but also sus­pi­cious of what he was say­ing. I asked him where the car was com­ing from and he said it was a South African-reg­is­tered Ford ST 2014 ve­hi­cle. He even sent a picture,” re­counted Mr Tlali.

“I then asked him why a car bought and reg­is­tered in South Africa would in­cur ship­ping costs. That is when he be­gan telling me con­flict­ing sto­ries. Now highly sus­pi­cious, I de­manded to see the car be­fore mak­ing any fur­ther ar­range­ments. But this never hap­pened.”

He said Nh­lapo sud­denly be­came un­reach­able and later resur­faced claim­ing he had been hos­pi­talised.

“When I asked what had hap­pened to him, he told me he had a seizure at the Maseru Bor­der Post and was im­me­di­ately taken to a hospi­tal in Bloem­fontein. When I then told him I had no prob­lem see­ing him at the hospi­tal, he im­me­di­ately said he was go­ing to be dis­charged and taken home to Fouries­burg.

“I then told him I had no prob­lem see­ing him in Fouries­burg and he came up with another story. Now he was be­ing trans­ferred to another hospi­tal in Kroon­stad and that is when he dis­ap­peared.”

Mr Tlali added: “By this time, I had be­gun mak­ing my own in­ves­ti­ga­tions and came across hor­ri­fy­ing sto­ries of girls who had been taken ad­van­tage of sex­u­ally by Nh­lapo. He was also tak­ing a lot of money from them claim­ing to be ship­ping and clear­ing their cars.

“I be­gan look­ing for him and he even­tu­ally started threat­en­ing me say­ing if I ever set foot any­where in South Africa he would know through his con­nec­tions and kill me.”

“Nh­lapo claimed to be a former mem­ber of the South African Po­lice Ser­vice and be­ing en­ti­tled to a full se­cu­rity es­cort by the South African gov­ern­ment.

“He also claimed to be close friends with some high rank­ing politi­cians in Le­sotho.

“I re­ported the mat­ter to the Fouries­burg Po­lice and was told there was al­ready a sim­i­lar case about Nh­lapo which they were in­ves­ti­gat­ing. I was sur­prised to learn just re­cently that he was still get­ting his af­fi­davits cer­ti­fied at the same po­lice sta­tion where he is sup­posed to be in­ves­ti­gated.”

One of the vic­tims said she was of­fered a con­tract to be the face of an EFF ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paign.

“Nh­lapo con­tacted me via Face­book around May last year say­ing he was a mem­ber of South African par­lia­ment un­der the EFF party. He said they had a cam­paign which re­quired a model, say­ing I would get R1 000, a car, cell phone and lap­top,” she said.

“I re­alised it was too good to be true but he had a way with words. He even took me to some of the EFF ral­lies in the Free State prov­ince and man­aged to con­vince me be­cause it all looked gen­uine.

“He then took me to Fouries­burg Po­lice Sta­tion where we signed an af­fi­davit stat­ing that I had agreed to work for the EFF cam­paign.”

She said Nh­lapo called her in June last year ask­ing for R6 000 he said was needed to clear the car at the bor­der.

“I told my mother about this is­sue as I had been no­ti­fy­ing her of ev­ery­thing from the begin­ning. She called him and they agreed to meet in Ma­put­soe where she gave him the money and also signed an af­fi­davit at the po­lice sta­tion au­then­ti­cat­ing the trans­ac­tion.

“My re­la­tion­ship with him de­te­ri­o­rated when I re­fused to have sex with him as he de­manded. He told me I was not ca­pa­ble of do­ing the EFF cam­paign and he would give it to some­one else who was will­ing. I asked him about the money we gave him and he said that he would kill me if I ever tried to ex­pose him.”

Other mod­els said he told them a dif­fer­ent line, say­ing he was an agent for skin and body-care brand Nivea hold­ing an ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paign in Bloem­fontein.

Nh­lapo also told his vic­tims they would be given brand new cars and R300 000 cash for ap­pear­ing on the bill­board ad­verts.

One of the vic­tims said she met Nh­lapo at the Maseru Bor­der Post last Fri­day and told she would go to a Nivea pho­to­shoot in Har­ri­smith and re­side in a ho­tel dur­ing the cam­paign.

“When I got to the bor­der to meet him last Fri­day af­ter­noon, I re­alised there were two of us from Le­sotho who were go­ing to meet him,” she said.

“He then drove us to Lady­brand where he bought us al­co­holic bev­er­ages and then we drove to Ficks­burg. Along the way, he asked us for R1 500 each which he said was a re­quire­ment to en­ter the Nivea cam­paign.

“I had R600, which was my rent money, while the other lady had no money with her. Nh­lapo said I should give the R600 to him and he would lend me the re­main­ing R900 which I would re­im­burse later.

“We passed through Ficks­burg to pick up his friend whom he called Doc and went to a num­ber of clubs in the area. We left Ficks­burg at around 9pm and headed to Fouries­burg.”

In­stead of be­ing booked into a ho­tel, she said they ended up in a five-roomed dwelling pop­u­larly known as a RDP house in South Africa.

“The other girl told me she had seen a gun in the car and that we should run away. But I be­came very afraid when I heard about the gun. “She man­aged to sneak out and re­turned with the lo­cal po­lice in their car.

“When the cops ar­rived, Nh­lapo went out­side to the po­lice car and I fol­lowed him. There was also an older lady who came out of the house whom I be­lieve was his mother as she pleaded with us not to get his son ar­rested.

“We were then asked to get into Nh­lapo’s car with him and another po­lice of­fi­cer fol­low­ing the cop car to the po­lice the sta­tion. When we got there, they made copies of our pass­ports and then Nh­lapo gave each one of us R100 and told us to go home to Le­sotho and never set foot in Fouries­burg again.

“We were sur­prised by the way the of­fi­cers han­dled the whole mat­ter. They talked to him as if they knew each other very well and even shared jokes,” she added.

Another vic­tim said she was ap­proached on Face­book by a Ma­fusi Nox­olo who pitched the same Nivea cam­paign story. Nox­olo asked her to pay R3 000 to land the con­tract which would re­sult in her be­ing given R300 000 plus a new car.

“Nox­olo even sent me pic­tures and copies of all the doc­u­ments of the car which she promised me. I agreed to pay the R3 000, then she called me say­ing her boss would come to meet me in Lady­brand.

“The guy I met in­tro­duced him­self as Mo­kena Nh­lapo, say­ing he was Nox­olo’s boss. He even showed me about 50 pass­port copies of other ladies whom he said were also go­ing to be part of the cam­paign and had al­ready paid.

“I gave him R1 500 cash and told him I would de­posit the rest on Fri­day which he said was the dead­line day. Last Fri­day, I de­posited the rest of the money.”

She only dis­cov­ered she had been duped after read­ing sim­i­lar ac­counts of other mod­els on a lo­cal What­sapp group for mod­els.

“We, as lo­cal mod­els, have a What­sapp group in which we dis­cuss dif­fer­ent is­sues. So, as I was pre­par­ing to head to Bloem­fontein for the pho­to­shoot last Satur­day, I got a call from the mod­els who were left stranded in Fouries­burg and they told me their story.

“I then con­tacted Nh­lapo ask­ing him to re­turn my money be­fore 1pm or I would ex­pose him on Face­book. He then called me back around 11am us­ing a Le­sotho num­ber say­ing I should meet him at Maseru Mall to get my money. I called him when I got there and he said he was now at AVANI Le­sotho ho­tel, then later claimed to be in Mazenod un­til he no longer an­swered the phone.

“On Sun­day, he called say­ing he was go­ing to re­fund me via a mo­bile money trans­fer ser­vice. But I went on to post his picture and story on Face­book. I was sur­prised to get com­ments from so many dif­fer­ent ladies claim­ing they were also vic­tims of the guy.”

Fouries­burg sta­tion com­man­der, Cap­tain Mbambo, told this pa­per he was not aware of any cases lodged against Nh­lapo, de­spite Mr Tlali say­ing he had done so.

Cap­tain Mbambo, how­ever, ex­pressed will­ing­ness to co­op­er­ate with the LMPS in the event they launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“I have not heard of any com­plaint or case against this Nh­lapo. I am also not aware of these af­fi­davits which were al­legedly signed at this sta­tion,” he said.

“How­ever, I would ad­vise the vic­tims to open a case with the Le­sotho po­lice so they can work with us di­rectly or via In­ter­pol. We prom­ise to as­sist them in any way we can.”

For his part, LMPS spokesper­son Su­per­in­ten­dent Clif­ford Molefe yes­ter­day said he was not aware of the case, adding that he would look into the mat­ter.

How­ever, when the Le­sotho Times con­tacted him again, Supt Molefe said he was in a meet­ing.

ONE of the cars that was promised to the mod­els.

MO­KENA Nh­lapo.

A PROOF of pay­ment made to Nh­lapo.

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