Lenn Roy Jovner, Siphiso Joel Matome, Joshwin Alex Cox, and James Andrew Scheepers are accused of running an extortion ring from prison.
- A convicted criminal accused of running an extortion ring from prison now faces charges of contempt of court for allegedly attempting to intimidate a witness.
- He was previously arrested for allegedly extorting inmates who solicited the services of an online escort agency.
- He and three co-accused allegedly extorted R1.3 million from their victims.
A convicted criminal accused of running an extortion ring from prison now faces charges of contempt of court for allegedly attempting to intimidate a witness.
Lenn Roy Jovner, 26, appeared in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on 15 August after being arrested, along with other inmates, on charges of extortion, forgery and uttering, as well as money laundering.
At his court appearance, the magistrate ordered the accused not to contact State witnesses. However, Jovner has been accused of attempting to intimidate a witness, according to Hawks spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Philani Nkwalase.
This led to officials of the Department of Correctional Services confiscating two cellphones from Jovner at Kgosi Mampuru Correctional Centre on Sunday, said Nkwalase.
“The devices were positively linked to the alleged communication with the said State witness. Furthermore, supplementary incriminating evidence reportedly connecting the accused and other suspects to the extortion of a male victim from Limpopo, who paid a large amount of cash and later committed suicide, had also been retrieved,” said Nkwalase.
Jovner and his three co-accused – Siphiso Joel Matome, Joshwin Alex Cox and James Andrew Scheepers – were arrested at Odi Correctional Centre in Mabopane and Baviaanspoort Correctional Centre in Pretoria on Thursday, 11 August.
Their arrests followed an investigation into claims of supposed police officers “extorting money from several male victims who had sought the service of a clandestine online escort agency”, said Nkwalase.
The victims would later be informed by someone purporting to be a police officer that a case of rape and fraud was opened against them as they had used fake money to pay the sex workers. They would also present a fake warrant of arrest through WhatsApp and demand payment to ensure that the police, along with the prosecutor, make the cases disappear.
The investigation revealed that a syndicate of inmates with cellphones had allegedly created profiles of police officers using information on social media. Two bank account numbers were provided to the male extortion victims to deposit the money.
Investigators established that the accounts contained more than R1.3 million.
During search operations at the prisons, multiple smartphones were found on each of the four accused and were seized by the Hawks.
The case against Jovner for contempt of court will be heard in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Friday. He is expected to return to the same court along with his co-accused on 22 September to face the other charges.