FFugi­it­ti­ivee iiss Hallee,, butt nott heear­rt­tyy

Weekend Witness - - News - STEPHANIE SAVILLE

JOUR­NAL­ISTS for the UK Sun news­pa­per have tracked al­leged Pi­eter­mar­itzburg fraud­ster Mike Hale down to a ru­ral hide­out in Corn­wall.

Hale, pre­vi­ously a Pi­eter­mar­itzburg insurance sales­man, has been wanted by po­lice since he left the coun­try in 2009. He faces 45 counts of fraud in­volv­ing R20 mil­lion of in­vestors’ money.

Speak­ing to Weekend Wit­ness yes­ter­day, Sun reporter Alex West said when he ap­proached Hale’s home, Hale pressed his face to the win­dow, ner­vously look­ing to see who was ap­proach­ing.

“He was fairly relieved I wasn’t the po­lice, but not so relieved when he re­alised I was a reporter. He knew what it was all about.”

Hale had been ner­vous and “very sheep­ish”, said West.

He said Hale was liv­ing “in the mid­dle of nowhere” in a con­verted barn with sheep roam­ing around and a pigsty in the gar­den. He said there was no ad­dress as such.

West said Hale had been tracked down by a fel­low jour­nal­ist who had used old fash­ioned jour­nal­is­tic tech­niques by ask­ing peo­ple on the streets if they knew of Hale’s where­abouts. He is ap­par­ently liv­ing with a woman by the name of He­len, with whom he may be ro­man­ti­cally linked.

“He wouldn’t say too much. I got the im­pres­sion it all went wrong. It all got on top of him. He said there were a lot of peo­ple in­volved.

“He was timid and quite ner­vous. He looked like a man on the run. He’s afraid.”

Asked if po­lice had con­tacted him to find out Hale’s where­abouts, he said no po­lice had been in con­tact with him af­ter the ar­ti­cle was pub­lished in the UK. “I think the po­lice know where he is. I can’t un­der­stand why they ha­ ven’t ar­rested him.”

West gave credit to a free­lance pho­tog­ra­pher Mike Thomas whose “proper old­fash­ioned” jour­nal­is­tic skills had tracked Hale to his home at Black­rock near Praze­anBee­ble.

Speak­ing to Weekend Wit­ness yes­ter­day, Thomas said he had first been tipped off by a source in Portreath vil­lage that Hale had been liv­ing there. He knocked on doors ask­ing peo­ple for sight­ings of Hale un­til he found Hale’s pre­vi­ous land­lord.

“He ar­rived in 2009 with no credit file and only a suit­case. The land­lord, who asked not to be iden­ti­fied, helped set Hale up with a Bri­tish bank ac­count and a cur­ricu­lum vi­tae so he could ap­ply to a teach­ing agen­ cy.”

In 2010, Hale moved on to his new ad­dress in a rented “con­verted cow­shed” at Black­rock near Cam­borne. “He drives a BMW, not too old and not too new. He’s not work­ing and he looked very sus­pi­cious,” said Thomas. He added that it was dif­fi­cult to hide in Corn­wall, as it was such a small area. He said that Hale told them he left South Africa un­der stress and said the less he said, the bet­ter.

The Sun quoted Hale say­ing, “I’m not in the wrong. Peo­ple over there were. I’m very up­set. My lawyers are on it.”

When asked if po­lice were fol­low­ing up the lead from the UK news­pa­per and if Hale had been ar­rested yet, Paul Ra­maloko, spokesper­son for the Hawks, said he would re­vert to Weekend Wit­ness with an up­date. No re­sponse was re­ceived at the time of go­ing to press.

The Wit­ness re­cently re­vealed that Hale had been work­ing as a tem­po­rary teacher in Corn­wall and his past had been un­masked af­ter a pupil Googled him and found Wit­ness ar­ti­cles de­tail­ing his al­leged run­ner with in­vestors’ money. • newsed@wit­ness.co.za


Fugi­tive Mike Hale at his ru­ral idyll home in Corn­wall.

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