An arrest warrant has been issued for flamboyant Johannesburg property tycoon Zunaid Moti in connection with a high-speed chase and shootout near Lanseria International Airport in November 2011.
The warrant for alleged conspiracy to commit murder and to commit robbery with aggravating circumstances is the latest and most serious legal development for Moti, the owner of the debt-embroiled Abalengani group.
A warrant has also been issued for one of Moti’s relatives, Eesa Badat.
A police officer, who asked not be named, confirmed that the warrants were issued last week, but that by Wednesday neither suspect had been arrested. He added: “This is a very complicated case.”
The warrants relate to an incident that took place in the early hours of November 5 last year when a Brits supermarket wholesaler, Naeem Cassim, and two friends were forced off the R512 north of Lanseria by another vehicle.
Cassim told The Star last year that he was trailed by three vehicles and shot at more than five times. One of the shots shattered the car’s back window. After being driven off the road, Cassim claimed that he and his friends lay in the bushes in the dark, pretending to be dead while the assailants allegedly stole money from the vehicle.
Two brothers, Hoosein and Hussen Mohamed, were arrested within days of the incident, but charges were dropped in the same week.
Cassim called in independent forensic consultants Paul O’Sullivan & Associates to assist with the investigation.
The Star reported that the incident flowed from a feud over a R38 000 debt allegedly owed to Cassim. On the night of the shooting Moti was allegedly at Silverstar Casino, near Lanseria, where Cassim had been gambling before he drove north and was attacked.
Moti’s lawyer, Ian Small-Smith, told the M&G: “If there is a warrant out for Moti and Badat, as you allege, it will be handled responsibly and resolved with the appropriate authorities.”
In 2011 Moti agreed to let banking giant Investec take ownership of most of his assets to offset loans of R1.5-billion.
Eyewitness News reported on Thursday that several of Moti’s properties were raided as part of an impending arrest and that Moti and others may have agreed to turn themselves in next week.
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