In a case involving the theft of over R1 million, Bilal Zikhali, who was charged with the offense, has been denied bail by the Pinetown Magistrate’s Court.
While the charge sheet initially named a woman from Hillcrest as the victim, it has been revealed that the stolen money belongs to the State.
The allegations state that an amount exceeding R1.6 million was transferred into Zikhali’s business account for the purpose of purchasing broadcast equipment to be supplied to outside broadcasters. Zikhali had been contracted as a supplier by the State.
However, instead of fulfilling the intended purpose, he allegedly transferred the funds into his personal account.
Further investigations discovered that Zikhali also distributed portions of the money to 19 other individuals holding accounts.
Detective Constable Siphiwo Maphumolo, the investigating officer, provided an affidavit opposing Zikhali’s bail application.
Maphumolo expressed concerns that Zikhali posed a flight risk and might evade trial.
He revealed the difficulties he faced in tracing Zikhali, stating that he could only locate and contact him after profiling Zikhali’s wife. Zikhali was found residing in Johannesburg at a friend’s place.
Maphumolo recounted how he informed Zikhali about the allegations over the phone and arranged for him to appear in Durban on May 19.
However, Zikhali failed to show up for the scheduled meeting and could not be reached on his cellphone.
Maphumolo then contacted the Senior Public Prosecutor, and a warrant of arrest was issued, designating Zikhali as a wanted man.
After three days, Zikhali responded to Maphumolo via SMS.
In a subsequent phone conversation, the officer deceived Zikhali by offering assistance in resolving the case outside of court.
This tactic led Zikhali to surrender himself at the police station in Hillcrest.
Opposing bail, Maphumolo expressed concerns about potential interference with the investigation, particularly because some other individuals implicated in the case were based in KwaZulu-Natal. Zikhali provided an alternative address in Overport, Durban, which was verified by the investigating officer.
However, when Maphumolo visited the address, no one was present.
Zikhali’s legal counsel, Mduduzi Mbatha, argued that the media had already made the witnesses aware of the case, and Zikhali had provided the necessary information to the State.
Mbatha also claimed that Zikhali delayed responding to the investigating officer because he was seeking legal advice.
State prosecutor Nomcebo Xulu countered that Zikhali appeared to have no fixed abode and failed to provide evidence, such as a lease agreement, to support his residency in Johannesburg.
Magistrate Wendalynn Robinson ultimately denied Zikhali’s bail, considering that neither the Overport address nor the Johannesburg address were deemed permanent residences.