BROTHERLY back-stabbing has an ancient history. But it’s also right up to date. Just ask Port Elizabeth doctor, Bongani Nqini.
Maybe he has a thing about banks, maybe he just likes ready cash, but during November last year, Dr Nqini had about R1-million in cash, with jewellery and other items, in two wall safes in his bedroom.
Not surprisingly he also had a good electronic security system, and it was activated when he went out on 21 November. When he came home however, he found the gate open, though not damaged. This made him think whoever opened the gate had used a remote. Inside he found everything in order – until he reached his bedroom.
You can imagine his horror as he realised the safes were gone. Even more horrific, perhaps, he realised that ‘only two people could have entered his house and de-activated the alarm system.’ These two people were his brothers.
Of the two, one was a far more likely suspect than the other. Tango Wordsworth Nqini was unemployed. In addition he had previously stolen Bongani Nqini’s car.
And indeed, the very next day Tango went shopping. Finding an Audi he fancied, he wanted to pay in cash. The manager however told him to pay through the dealership’s account and bring proof of the payment. Tango immediately waltzed off to the bank and there deposited 2 600 R100 notes.
The vehicle was then handed over to him but he was to return later for the licence.
Bongani, meanwhile, had reported his loss to the police and on 21 December a police officer, Moegamet Humphries, visited the car dealership. Tango had taken his car, he was told, but the spare keys and licence papers still had to be collected.
Humphries asked them to keep him posted. An hour later Tango arrived; Humphries, tipped off, dropped by to arrest him. During a quick search of the vehicle he found R27 000 in R100 notes.
Unsurprisingly Tango denied having stolen money from his brother. But he gave no explanation for the extraordinary coincidence which saw him buying a vehicle for cash just the day after the robbery. Nor did he throw any light on the bank notes found in the car.
Within days the National Director of Public Prosecutions asked the courts to approve a ‘preservation order’ so the NDPP could hold on to the car and the cash.
In the middle of last month the NDPP was back in court, this time asking for an order declaring both vehicle and cash ‘forfeit’. In turn, Tango opposed forfeiting the vehicle and the money and asked that the earlier preservation order be scrapped.
He made an affidavit explaining his version of events and, given the background to his story and the effrontery of the crime he was supposed to have committed, it may not surprise you to learn that he was previously employed in Port Elizabeth’s new law courts. After he lost that job in 2009 he had been without work.
In that affidavit he did not deny his brother’s charge that he (Tango) had earlier stolen a car from Bongani. And he was quiet about what Judge Clive Plasket described as two ‘rather curious facts’: first, Tango has no driver’s licence, and second, the insurance papers name the car’s regular driver as ‘Mr M Soloshe’, a name that occurs nowhere in Tango’s explanations.
Instead Nqini’s story is that an old friend asked him to help run a night club in King William’s Town and gave him R260 000 to buy a car and later a further R27 000 for ‘supplies’ for the club.
This version of the ‘old friend’ was rejected by the judge who said there was the scantiest detail of every key aspect of the defence. With no written record of their agreement the absence of any detail was ‘telling’, and the court found the story ‘palpably implausible, far-fetched and clearly untenable’. Given all the facts it stretched the bounds of credulity far too far to accept that the money could have been obtained legitimately.
For this reason the NDPP’s application had to succeed and the forfeiture order was granted. The court said that the vehicle should then be sold and the proceeds, together with the R27 000 cash, was to be paid over to Bongani.
Presumably however this is not the last tango between the two estranged brothers and Bongani’s fight to recover the rest of his loss will involve the criminal courts as well.