Lane & Associates - News Services News Archive News 2010 is upon us Nabbed! Durban's tag master Check first, be safe later PRIVATE INVESTIGATORS NOT OFTEN ASKED TO CHECK The horrors of renting out expensive property Private eyes checking out renters Warning Signs of Covert Eavesdropping or Bugging Qualification to lie for Snooping on rivals is now big business Apartheid Era Tapping Resources up for Sale to the Highest Bidder Quit Bugging Me, Mate Shipping Firm's Leak Plugged Telephone Bugger's Wings Clipped Internet banking fraud goes online in Durban Unicity council staff under surveillance Theft of information is a tough problem Scams Clients Meet The Team Gallery Links Contact Us

Commercial Investigators
Lane & Associates

2010 is upon us 22/01/2010

2010 is upon us and here's wishing you all the very best
We are certain it is going to be a good one!

2009 was an action packed year with many successes for Lane & Associates with an exciting new 2010 anticipated ahead.

Three more professionals have joined our team. We welcome Marlize Hollenbach who has extensive experience working in Forensic Audit for S A Breweries, South African Revenue Services, and Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Council. She is a certified Forensic Examiner with a B.Comm in Accountancy and a Diploma in Criminal Justice and Forensic Auditing.

Deon Jacobs, who is based in Gauteng has 22 years experience in law enforcement and has extensive training in the fields of Firearms, VIP Protection, Fire Fighting, Accident Investigation and International Drug Enforcement training.

Rory Brooks who has 20 years experience and specialises in all L&A camera/digital IP Solutions and security threat studies. Rory recently installed the largest Mobotix IP Camera system in the Southern Hemisphere at a client and has conducted security threat studies at various port terminals in Kenya and South Africa.

Proudly our investigators notched up many successes. They made a breakthrough in Northern Natal by “cracking” 35 cases of armed robbery and the arrest of three gangs. Since July, armed robberies at this group of companies has been reduced 100%!

In another case, three million Rands worth of scaffolding was returned to a client while there has been a marked increase in Cyber-crime investigations. A case, which has enjoyed headlines, is the arrest of a king pin graffiti artist in the Durban area while another case which has been handed over to the SAPS is where an employee was apprehended stealing R780 000 from an employer.


On the debugging side, we have extended our operations further up Africa to Tanzania.

All the best for an action packed 2010

Nabbed! Durban's tag master 16/01/2010

GRAFFITI: Serial vandal likely to face stern punishment after PI tracks him

By Sharlene Packree.

A DURBAN graffiti artist, who vandalised more than 1 400 properties and then allegedly posted videos on You Tube website, made a brief appearance in the Durban Magistrate's Court yesterday.

Dressed in a pinstripe suit, Phillip Botha of Glenwood stood with his head bowed in the dock while he was formally charged with 860 counts of malicious damage to property.

Botha (29) is believed to be the son of a Durban magistrate, and owned a clothing store in Mahatma Gandhi (Point) Road.

It is believed that Botha also sold graffiti paints at the store before it was closed down in 2008.

Roy Jee, a private investigator hired by the municipality, said he has been gathering information about Botha and other graffiti vandals for the past two years, and wanted to build a strong case so Botha would not get off with a light fine.

Previously, culprits were only given small fines or were dealt with by the National Institute for Crime Prevention and Reintegration of Offenders (Nicro).

Determined to apprehend Botha, Jee called in a handwriting expert and obtained search warrants.

Botha and others in his group have allegedly defaced bridges, fences, telephone poles, municipal bins and even Metrorail trains.

His personal tag – 2Kil – can be seen throughout the city on fences and concrete bridges.

Jee said the graffiti artists loved tagging trains as they have smooth surfaces and move around the province.

"We want to use this case as an example to others who deface property. This is vandalism on a large scale. He has caused thousands of rands of damage," he said.

Jee said there was evidence that Botha had created a page on You Tube and Myspace, popular social networking websites, and would regularly post videos of the group tagging bridges and trains.

"The suspect also has a personal web page where he had a record of all the tags he had sprayed. Some of these tags can be traced back to four years ago," he said.

"He has been doing this for a long and thought that he could get away. Finally, he has gotten caught," said Jee.

He said that he hoped the court gave Botha a stiff sentence as that would send a stern message to other groups.

Check first, be safe later 25/09/2009

WARNING: Hiring workers blindly can have disastrous results

The full horror of what can go wrong when people spend fortunes on personal security - and then employ strangers off the street to work in their homes, was brought home this week when the gardener of up-market Sandown Retirement Village in Pinetown appeared in court charged with the murder of 87-year-old Sheila Hesk in August.

Hesk, a wheelchair-bound widow was bound hand and foot, beaten and tortured to death - allegedly by Sphamandla Cele and his friend Ayanda Mthembu.

Cele was employed by the management of Hesk's retirement village even though he had an extensive criminal record, including convictions for burglary and assault. Arrested last week while on the run in KwaDabheka west of Durban, Cele is said to have admitted to murdering Hesk - but showed no remorse at all. Cele and Mthembu appeared in court earlier this week and were remanded into police custody until September 22.

The murder of Hesk, inside a secure retirement home, shocked Durban. Sandown's own website boasts: "The level of security at Sandown Village should give you added comfort too. The entire property is walled a there are security officers on patrol at night, which means [that] you can feel totally confident of your home's security when you go on holiday. "

Since Hesk was found near naked bruised and bloodied, speculation had been rife as to the identity of her attackers. However, the SAPS have been hunting for Cele since minutes after being called to the scene of Hesk's murder.

On August 26, Hesk's body was found by the Sandown estate manager Mike Roberts. Neighbours of the wheelchair-bound woman had heard noises from her flat during the night but they had not been alarmed.

However, when her door remained closed the following morning they alerted Roberts.

Hesk's flat had been ransacked. However, a small safe remained unopened and had clearly resisted attempts to force it off the wall. It is suspected that Hesk could not remember how to open the safe and so, convinced that she was holding back on them, her attackers tortured her to death by repeatedly stabbing and punching and kicking her.

Until now the identity of her killer has been a mystery to the public and residents. Closed-circuit television cameras did not show anything suspicious the night of Hesk's murder and no alarms went off.

Within minutes of arriving at the scene of Hesk's death, the SAPS had positively identified a suspect from fingerprint and forensic evidence left at the scene. Various items belonging to the gardener at the estate were also found inside Hesk's flat, while the gardener's spade is believed to have been used to force apart her burglar guards.

Fingerprints found inside Hesk's flat were matched to the gardener within seconds.

A simple check on his prints or identity document number would have revealed that Mthembu, the 22-year-old gardener, had an extensive criminal record with arrests for assault, housebreaking and a string of other crimes.

Late last year Petros Mthethwa, named as "South Africa's most violent house robber" by the KZN house robbery unit at the time, was sentenced to several life sentences for a series of violent house robberies, rapes and murders, most committed with a traditional Zulu spear.

Mthethwa favoured a spear over firearms even though he had several firearms.

He was known to enjoy tormenting his victims by stabbing them repeatedly before administering the coup de grace with his spear.

Mthethwa, and expert knife-fighter, was on the run for well over a year after escaping from custody by overpowering two armed policemen and stabbing them repeatedly with a knife smuggled into his cell. During the time that he was on the run he traveled between Gauteng and Durban taking occasional employment as a gardener of builder's assistant.

During Mthethwa's trial Detective Inspector Keith Caswell of the house robbery unit gave evidence that Mthethwa had attacked and murdered at least one of his employers.

"I simply cannot understand why people hire unchecked staff knowing that horror stories can so often be the result," said Lane.


Amanzimtoti-based private investigator Carol Lane of Lane & Associates said that while her company is often requested to undertake background and credit checks of potential tenants, no residential development had ever hired her company to check the backgrounds of their staff.  Nor had any private person ever asked her company to check out their domestic staff.

"That always amazes me.  Domestic staff are trusted with our homes, our children and our lives and yet nobody bothers to do even the most basic background check on their domestic help.  The vast majority of domestic staff are absolutely honest, decent people – but if they are hired straight off the street they could well be violent criminals."

Nina de Winter, CEO of international investigations company Kroll, said that her company was very rarely asked to conduct background checks on domestic helpers: "We have had such requests, but many people do not realize that his can in fact be done.  In this day and age the cost of performing such a check is nothing compared to the price you might pay for not doing so.  The price you may pay for hiring unknown help could be your life."

The horrors of renting out expensive property 13/03/2009

The horrors of renting out expensive property were brought into sharp focus last week when a man who allegedly masqueraded as Jacob Zuma's nephew bolted from a posh Hillcrest home - allegedly owing a fortune in rent and leaving behind extensive damage to the property.

After initially telling The Citizen he was Jacob Zuma's nephew and a senior ANC office bearer the man this week went to ground - turning off his phones after moving out of the rented home he has trashed.

The home owner, Duncan Loynes, told The Citizen that after his experience with the face Zuma relative, he intended to relocate to the Far East, where he has business interest, taking his wife, children and dogs with him. He vowed to never rent out property again.

When The Citizen first called Sikhumbuzo Hlela - described as the tenant from hell by Loynes - he claimed that he, not Loynes, was the loser in the rental agreement.

Said Hlela: "From the instant I moved in these people targeted me because I am a senior ANC official and a relative of comrade Jacob Zuma. The cut the water and electricity off even though I paid my rent on time."

However, The Citizen has established that Hlela is not related to ANC president Jacob Zuma and has no official position within the ANC. Hlela is the son-in-law of Abegail Thandi Zuma, who became a Zuma after marrying KZN south coast IFP councilor Michael Zuma.

Standard Bank told The Citizen that they have a civil judgment against Hlela for a loan of nearly R50 000 on which he defaulted. The eThekwini Municipality have begun civil proceedings against Hlela to recover an undisclosed amount of money the believe Hlela owes them for having dodged electricity and water bills.

Police records show Hlela was convicted of theft in 1993 and sentenced to three months in jail, suspended for three years. Last year he was found not guilty on charges of malicious damage to property and in 1997 the state failed to prove a case of fraud they brought against Hlela.

Hillcrest police told The Citizen they had been called to the property Hlela was renting on numerous occasions because of noise complaints.

Those living near him told The Citizen that when Hlela hosted parties he festooned the rented house with ANC poster and invited the public in, often saying that his uncle, Jacob Zuma, was expected to make a brief appearance. But Zuma himself was never seen in Hlela's company.

ANC spokesman Steyn Speed told The Citizen he has never heard of Hlela: "I have checked with Mr. Zuma's office and they have no idea who this man is. There is no connection at all between Mr. Zuma and this man, I checked thoroughly."

Loynes came across Hlela after hiring Hillcrest-based Remax properties to find them a tenant.
A lease was signed between the Loynes and Abegail Zuma late last year. After signing the lease Remax estate agent Sharon Horne contacted Loynes to inform him that Zuma's daughter and son-in-law would be living in the home.

Said Loynes: "By that I understood that Mrs. Zuma would have living with her. The lease prohibits sub-letting and I was told the Mrs. Zuma was a well-known and respectable businesswoman."

It has been established Abegail Zuma is a low-level employee of the provincial education department.

Loynes told The Citizen that when Hlela first defaulted on his rent he contacted Abegail Zuma on her cell phone. "She repeatedly dodged me, claiming she was in meetings or representing South Africa at the Obama inauguration. She said she was a close relative of Jacob Zuma."

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