Fri. Apr 12th, 2024

Two suspects, identified as 27-year-old Yiga Siraje Lubega and 32-year-old Rhoda Betsey Mirembe, have been remanded in custody after appearing in the Polokwane Magistrate’s Court. The pair is accused of collaborating to scam a 39-year-old woman from Limpopo, resulting in a loss of more than R600,000. Lubega and Mirembe, alleged to be from Uganda, are under investigation by South African law enforcement agencies.

According to Lieutenant Colonel Matimba Maluleke, the Hawks spokesperson in Limpopo, the victim met Lubega randomly in Polokwane in September. Following their encounter, they entered into a romantic relationship, during which Lubega reportedly learned about the woman’s personal problems. Lubega promised to connect her with a spiritual healer, a ‘prophetess,’ who claimed to address her issues.

The ‘prophetess’ (Mirembe) engaged in prayers with the victim and Lubega for about a week. During one session, Mirembe arrived in a BMW X6, carrying R4 million in cash. The victim was told the money was hers, but she needed to pay a 10 percent fee to access it. Unable to provide the money, the victim obtained a R650,000 loan and handed it over to Mirembe.

When attempts to contact Lubega and Mirembe failed, the victim discovered her details were fraudulently used in a property transaction. Reporting the matter to the Hawks, the investigation led to the arrest of the suspects. The authorities seized two vehicles, a white Mercedes-Benz and the BMW X6, during the operation.

The suspects appeared in court on Thursday and were remanded in custody until the following Monday for a formal bail application. Major General Gopz Govender, the provincial head of the Hawks in Limpopo, commended the investigation team for their success. Govender expressed gratitude for cracking a complex case and indicated ongoing investigations into various dating scams in the province.

Last month, the Hawks issued a warning following an increase in dating scam incidents. A 60-year-old woman in Polokwane was scammed out of over R800,000 of her pension money by a boyfriend. The Hawks urged potential victims, especially well-to-do single or widowed women, to be cautious and vigilant, emphasizing the frequency of such cases targeting specific categories of individuals.

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