Fake kidnap ‘just a prank’

Kathryn Kimberley

THE wife of a Port Elizabeth diamond dealer who allegedly staged his own kidnapping to escape paying angry investors R9-million, yesterday pleaded with the Port Elizabeth District Court to release her husband on bail.

Giel Mans, 35, has been in custody since December last year. He faces a charge of fraud.

Investors allegedly lost millions of rands to the handsome, slick salesman who apparently coaxed them into investing in his lucrative pyramid scheme, established in about 2005.

He would use the initial payments to buy some of the country’s best diamonds, then sell them at a huge profit abroad.

However, when investors allegedly failed to see a profit and started asking questions last year, Mans allegedly faked his own kidnapping.

He allegedly went as far as to demand a ransom of R5-million. Yesterday, his wife, Stephanie Mans, told the court that her husband’s troubles began on December 14 last year when he travelled to Johannesburg to buy diamonds.

She said she never heard from him for two days and his phone was switched off. Then, on December 16, she received a text message from an unknown number, claiming her husband had been kidnapped.

“The message was in broken Afrikaans. It said ‘we have your husband and know he deals in diamonds, we want money’.”

She immediately reported it to the police.

“I believed it was a real threat. I hadn’t spoken to him for days.”

Then, on December 19, she said she received a brief call from Mans. “The sound was garbled. I could only hear him say that his jaw was sore. And then the phone cut out.

“My impression was that he was being held against his will. I phoned the cops immediately.”

Mans was arrested while braaiing with friends at Hartbeespoort Dam in North West on Christmas Eve. He has been in custody since and the state is opposing bail.

Stephanie said Mans was diagnosed with bipolar mood disorder about a month after his incarceration.

Meanwhile, Mans, represented by Advocate Brent Harke, claims that on December 16 he had been watching a film about a former CIA operative whose daughter is kidnapped, when he decided to play a prank on his wife.

He said he had been drinking and he never meant for it to get out of hand.

Mans also said he had stored diamonds worth millions of rands in a safe in London. If the court released him on bail, he would collect them and all the complainants would then receive their dividends. He refused to tell the court where the diamonds were allegedly being kept.

Asked by the prosecutor, Advocate Wilhelm de Villiers, why she could not travel to London to collect the diamonds herself, Stephanie said the institution needed to scan Mans’s fingerprints and the iris of his eyes before the safety deposit box could be opened.

The bail application was postponed to October 11 for closing argument.

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