Travel scam accused granted bail

Pretoria - One of the women in a travel scam that led to the murder of a policeman was granted bail in the Pretoria North Magistrate's Court on Monday.

"At this stage, it seems there is not a lot of certainty regarding your involvement," Magistrate Pierre Wessels told Salome Klopper.

Klopper appeared with Renette Wright, while Wright's husband Hendrick Jacobus Wright was not present as he was in hospital.

The two women were applying for bail. The three are accused of defrauding Adriaan Petrus Johnson of R26 000. Johnson allegedly paid the money to the Wrights' company, Zambezi Tours and Safari, which was selling holiday packages.

Investigating officer Constable John Ramollo told the court the modus operandi of the business was to cancel trips a week before the departure date, with clients never getting their refunds.

Klopper was said to be a receptionist and secretary. They were arrested on 24 July in Sinoville, Pretoria.

A police officer, Warrant Officer Ben Strydom, 47, was shot dead during a raid at their house while trying to arrest the husband.

According to police, when Hendrick Wright saw the police, he tried to escape through another door of the house but Strydom caught him. He allegedly drew a firearm and shot the policeman before fleeing.

While travelling on the Moloto Road, he stopped his car and shot and wounded himself.

Ramollo said the accused mostly defrauded pensioners.

He told the court that accused should not be granted bail as they were a flight risk.

He told the court how the Wrights planned to skip the country before they were arrested.

He said passports were discovered in a car when they were arrested.

‘Business interests’

Ramollo added that the accused had business interests in Namibia and that should be taken into consideration during their bail application.

Klopper's lawyer, Fred Klein, handed in her passport to the court on Monday.

Wessels told Klopper that there was a warrant for her arrest but it was issued while she was in custody.

"There is no evidence that you [Klopper] also have business interests in Namibia. It is not in the interest of justice to keep you in custody," he said.

She was granted bail of R10 000 while Wright remained in custody.

Wessels postponed the matter to 11 August to allow the investigating officer to confirm the address given by Wright during her application.

Wessels added that he wanted a new doctor's report regarding the condition of Wright in hospital.