Net closing in on Rudland assailants
While the alleged mastermind of the failed hit Sebastian Groenewald – a former special forces police officer – was himself killed, his alleged accomplice, right-hand man and driver is due to apply for bail this week after being nabbed in October.
Although the South African Police Services has refused to comment on the matter, Rudland said he was confident the law would take its course.
“He [Schoeman] has been arrested and taken to court and hopefully we will see a conclusion in my attempted assassination,” he said, adding his life “continued to be under threat as the hidden hand in the attack walked free”.
“My safety is still under threat while the paymaster is running around, we are all still at high risk,” Rudland said.
More than a year after the shooting, in which the Gold Leaf Tobacco Corporation (GLTC) founder sustained three gunshot wounds and still has one of the projectiles lodged in his body.
“It’s a constant reminder, but all is well with my health and I am back to normal,” Rudland said, adding the assailants had been directed by a competitor to eliminate him and Mohammadh Sayed.
And the Schoeman case unraveled when Groenewald was savagely murdered in April this year, and police investigations led to the former.
In the wake of the Ekurhuleni Metro Police Department (EMPD) senior staffer’s murder, his wife then revealed under interrogation that Schoeman had removed a bag containing ammunition from their home.
When the latter was pressed by police, he allegedly returned the bullets and told officers that he had also removed two handguns, a shotgun, six hand grenades and 500 mandrax tablets from a storage facility which Groenewald controlled in Boksburg, sources said.
Thereafter, Schoeman allegedly stashed the guns, explosives and drugs with two people in his inner circle for safekeeping.
When the contraband was tracked down and the guns sent for ballistic analysis, one of the pistols was linked to the attack on Rudland, sources told the South African police.
In a search of Groenewald’s EMPD car, police found an R5 rifle which, through ballistic analysis, was linked to the murder of Dowjee, and the spate of other slayings in Reiger Park.
In an alleged confession, Schoeman also copped to his role in the killing of Shuaib Dowjee under the mistaken belief of hitting Carnilinx Tobacco owner Sayed and another six people in Reiger Park (Reiger).
Even, though, he denies playing a role in the failed Rudland hit, cellphone records have allegedly placed him and Groenewald at the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco (FITA)’s Norwood offices, and crime scene.
And sources said the pair had trailed the GLTC owner, and tobacco baron from his Linbro Park office while in constant with another man – known to News24 and who is alleged to have pulled the trigger.
The alleged shooter is currently incarcerated for another crime.
According to people with knowledge of the investigation, the former was tied to Rudland’s August 2019 shooting and in which he was badly wounded.
Critically, Groenewald has been implicated in the murders of six other people in Reiger between December and January.
And in the fatal Dowjee attack, Groenewald and Schoeman are said to have used the same method or modus operandi by following him from a Houghton mosque before ambushing him on the freeway.
But the EMPD’s elite SWAT team member himself was killed on April 02, with his bloodied body found dumped in a swamp in Reiger.
Sinenhlanhla Mnguni, the FITA chair, said the breakthrough – amid speculation that competitor tobacco players were implicated – was a very welcome development.
“We again urge the public at large to avoid speculation and to allow law enforcement agencies to continue to conduct their investigations freely and, ultimately, for the perpetrators of these heinous acts to be brought to book,” he said.
”As an organisation, we take these threats to our security and lives very seriously and are committed to ensuring that those involved are brought to book and made to account for these acts of criminality.” – with News24.