Hendrick Mphande firstname.lastname@example.org
TWO weeks after going underground, bedraggled German fugitive Jens Leunberg handed himself over to the police yesterday to face charges of murdering Jeffreys Bay businessman Claus Schroeder. His arrest brings renewed hope to Schroeder’s family that his body will finally be found.
Leunberg, 34, who went on the run after promising to hand himself over to the police on July 20, was believed to have been travelling across the country with his mistress, Kanyisa Mbata, before deciding to give himself up.
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He returned to Port Elizabeth and contacted his lawyer, Ryno Scholtz, to arrange his surrender. He was taken into custody by the Hawks just an hour before his wife, German citizen Kristina Adler, made her third appearance in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court in connection with the 2009 murder. The couple are also facing multiple fraud charges. She is being held at North End Prison, while Leunberg is being held at St Albans.
The Hawks and National Prosecuting Authority officials were tight-lipped yesterday about where Leunberg had been and details surrounding his arrest.
However, Scholtz confirmed that the arrest had taken place at about 11.15am and Leunberg would be jointly charged as accused number two.
“Leunberg phoned me to say he wanted to hand himself over to the police. I quickly summoned Warrant Officer Danie Siebert, who was sick in bed, to come to my office to facilitate the handing-over.”
At the lawyer’s office, Leunberg was allowed to phone his mother in Germany before being taken to St Albans.
The couple are due to appear in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court tomorrow. Mbata has not been arrested, but the police said yesterday she would be questioned.
Schroeder’s widow, Tanja, was relieved by Leunberg’s arrest. “I just hope Jens will finally talk and tell the investigating officers what happened and that we will hear from him where he put my husband’s body,” she said.
“I am so thankful for the great work of the police in Port Elizabeth. They have done an outstanding job. They have put a lot of effort into solving this case and, in the past two weeks, arresting Jens.”
Leunberg and Adler came to South Africa in 2007, allegedly leaving a trail of crime behind them. Besides the murder of Schroeder, they are also accused of fraud totalling R62-million.
Schroeder disappeared on August 14 2009. His body has never been found. The state alleges the couple convinced the Schroeders they had the means to purchase the farm in Thornhill.
They allegedly forged bank documents showing the money was in their account. The police say Schroeder became suspicious, went to the farm to confront them and was killed.
The other fraud charge relates to Adler’s bid in 2008 to get the Department of Home Affairs to convert her visitor’s permit to a temporary business permit. She had told them she would run Thornhill Ubuntu Tourism Activities, and the condition was that she needed to have R2.5-million to invest in the business. She allegedly later falsified an online printout of a Deutchse Bank statement indicating she had R4.2-million in the account. The permit was granted.
On the same day, Leunberg allegedly applied to the department to have his visitor’s permit changed to an “accompanying spouse for a temporary business permit”.
The department says the information was misleading.