Alleged Woolworths 'Mercedes looter' appears in court on theft and public violence charges
The 26-year-old Mercedes-Benz driver who went viral on social media after being captured on film allegedly looting a popular Durban Woolworths is a tenderpreneur who allegedly had previous run-ins with the law.
Details of Mbuso Moloi's lifestyle were revealed by the state when he appeared in the Durban magistrate's court on Thursday facing four counts related to theft, public violence, trespassing and operating a vehicle for which a number plate doesn't correspond.
The court heard that Moloi has two previous cases, for fraud/theft in Westville in 2013 and another matter of robbery in the Claremont area of Cape Town.
While the state said it was yet to verify these cases, they raised the matter of the Mercedes-Benz which Moloi had been driving on the day he was caught on camera allegedly looting.
The vehicle, a silver Mercedes AMG C-Class Coupe, belongs to his father and on the day had fake number plates.
Prosecutor Ronitha Singh said this indicated his character and “sinister intentions as an individual”.
Singh said the police had been on the hunt for him since July 16, four days after a video allegedly of him walking out of Woolworths in Glenwood with a basket full of goods, went viral on social media.
“Police were looking for the accused since July 16. The accused had switched off his cellphone. When police made contact with his family, they indicated he had left to Johannesburg for some tender work.”
She said the police had approached his parents' residence in Cowies Hill, where they were informed that Moloi had left for Johannesburg and his whereabouts were unknown.
The police then obtained a warrant of arrest (J50). “It was only when he [Moloi] became aware that a J50 had been authorised that he handed himself over to police,” said Singh.
Moloi's attorney Mfanafuthi Biyela told the court that his client travelled to Johannesburg on occasion for tender-related contracts in the public and private sectors.
He refuted the 2013 case against his client, saying the matter had been struck off the roll.
Biyela's intentions to apply for bail on behalf of Moloi were dashed when the state said it would need to verify Moloi's address, whether he is in fact self-employed and whether his previous cases had been finalised.
Singh emphasised that Moloi's sister, who is a university student, was a “material witness” who needed to provide details to police as she was allegedly in the vehicle on the day of the incident.
The police have made provisions to seize the vehicle.
Moloi will remain in custody until August 3, when he is expected to make a bail application.