Prinsloo apol­o­gises to coun­try, vic­tims

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - HANTI OTTO

“I WANT to apol­o­gise to my coun­try, as I had shamed it. Also to Be­larus, as this is a good coun­try. And to the vic­tims and the bank,” Dirk Prinsloo yes­ter­day said in the Bara­novichi High Court.

He de­nied all the other al­le­ga­tions against him, but “partly ad­mit­ted guilt” for the bank rob­bery on June 10 last year, an ac­cept­able plea in Be­larus.

“I was not my­self at that time. It is not my habit to rob banks. I be­came des­per­ate due to my fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion. My men­tal state fluc­tu­ated like a roller­coaster. At times I thought of rob­bing a bank, and then I came to my senses again,” he ex­plained.

The fi­nal straw, ac­cord­ing to Prinsloo, was when Ta­tiana Leshko, the mother of his daugh­ter and ap­par­ently the one girl­friend he still cared for, came to him the day be­fore the rob­bery with the baby.

“There were holes in Ta­tiana’s shoes. This cut my heart,” he said.

Prinsloo said he was a wealthy man in South Africa.

“And I could not even buy sum­mer shoes for Kse­nia (his daugh­ter),” he said.

He had a tool bag with a gas bot­tle, metal rod and cut­ters in it. The ski-mask he had brought from South Africa. The toy gun was bought when he was con­sid­er­ing rob­bing a bank.

The next day Leshko called him, say­ing there was no money.

“I found my­self walk­ing into the bank. I re­mem­ber clos­ing the door with an iron bar. I cut the wires, think­ing it was the alarm. It was the elec­tric­ity wires and yes, I was shocked by the elec­tric­ity,” he said.

He said his orig­i­nal plan was to place a pa­per de­mand­ing money in front of a cashier, as it would cause the least harm, but his plan went wrong.

“I heard foot­steps. I took the plas­tic pis­tol and pointed it at her (a bank em­ployee). I was hop­ing she would stay quiet so that I could take her to the rest of the peo­ple,” he said.

How­ever, the woman fell, hit­ting her­self against the wall ap­par­ently be­com­ing un­con­scious, Prinsloo said.

He had to drag her to the re­cep­tion area, as she was too heavy to carry.

Every­one was shout­ing and run­ning. Prinsloo’s aim was a white walk-in safe. As he wanted to get every­one to­gether, he shouted at the women, but said there was no re­ac­tion, as they were “pet­ri­fied”.

He tes­ti­fied how he “ac­ci­den­tally” hit one of the women, as he jumped over a bench.

When one told him they did not have the keys to the de­pos­i­tory, Prinsloo said he had “zero” idea that this was where the safe was.

In the com­mo­tion, he re­alised one of the women was cov­ered in blood.

“At that mo­ment I came to my senses. It shocked me what I was do­ing. I took my bag and just left,” he said.

He told the court that he only wanted a few thou­sand rou­bles to give to Ta­tiana. Then he would hand him­self over to the Span­ish em­bassy.

“I know their law. It is very rea­son­able in re­la­tion to the charges I am charged with in South Africa,” he said.

Re­fer­ring to the ex­pen­sive neck­lace one of his for­mer girl­friends, Svet­lana Vasily claimed he had stolen, Prinsloo said he had bought it in South Africa for Cezanne Visser.

When he went to Moscow, Rus­sia, the last time, he tried to sell the neck­lace.

Prinsloo also de­nied abus­ing an­other girl­friend, known as Anas­ta­sia, or threat­en­ing to kill her. He said she knew he was wanted by In­ter­pol, so she had power over him.

As he claimed all the women were ly­ing to the court, as the po­lice had in­flu­enced them, Judge Vasily Petriv asked him about one of his own state­ments to the po­lice.

Prinsloo said he was tor­tured. The court or­dered an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into th­ese claims.

OUSTED: A hand­cuffed Dirk Prinsloo af­ter his re­moval from court.

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