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SA gunmen rob members of PM’s entourage

by Sunday Express
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…gun-toting assailants make off with official documents from PM’s Kenya trip   

’Marafaele Mohloboli

TWO Foreign Affairs ministry officials were recently mugged in Johannesburg, South Africa by unknown gun-toting assailants who robbed them of personal belongings and official documents.

The two officials, ’Mathapelo Kanono and Mokotjo Ramonono, were part of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s entourage for his recent official visit to Kenya.

Ms ’Mathapelo Kanono works in the legal department of the Foreign Ministry while Mr Mokotjo Ramonono is director of political affairs in Africa and the Middle East.

Dr Thabane’s spokesperson, Thabo Thakalekoala, said the incident took place in Kempton Park, Johannesburg shortly after the duo’s return from Kenya. He said they duo were accosted by the gunmen shortly after they boarded a shuttle bus to take them to their residence in the neighbouring country.

“Just before they (Ms Kanono and Mr Ramonono) got to their place, some gun wielding men smashed the windows of their car and took some of their stuff including bags containing official documents from the Kenya trip,” Mr Thakalekoala said, adding the officials were later attended to by police who took their statements.

While Mr Thakalekoala would not say which documents had been stolen, a source privy to the issue told the Sunday Express that the gunmen made off with a copy of the memorandum of understanding Dr Thabane recently inked with his Kenyan counterpart, President Uhuru Kenyatta.

On his part, Lesotho’s High Commissioner to South Africa, Sekhonyana Bereng, said he had heard about the incident but could not comment as the details were still sketchy to him.

“I was informed about the incident but I could not make it to the place where the two officers were as my office is in Pretoria and far away from Johannesburg. But I was told that they were not injured.

“The matter should be handled with care as it is quite sensitive and the officers could have been traumatised by the experience,” said Mr Bereng.

He referred all questions to the Deputy Consular General in Johannesburg, Rapelang Thuela, who was unwilling to shed light on the issue.

After several unsuccessful attempts to reach him through a normal voice call, Mr Thuela eventually responded to a WhatsApp call, saying he did not want to talk as he was in meeting.

Mr Ramonono was not reachable on his mobile phone and Ms Kanono cut the phone after this reporter had introduced herself.

The incident is one of numerous high profile robberies which have occurred in South Africa’s crime-infested commercial hub.

Back in 2015, Laurinda Mphoko, the wife of then Zimbabwean Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko was assaulted and robbed of money and goods worth R1million.

Ms Mphoko who was on her way to the Oriental Plaza in Johannesburg at the time, was allegedly stopped by four men who pretended to be police officers.

The robbers who had a pistol and knives stopped the vehicle in which Ms Mphoko was being driven and flashed a wallet containing a police badge at them.

Ms Mphoko was with five other people in the car.





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