Durban - A Portuguese foreign national, who was due to appear at the Verulam Magistrates’ Court, north of Durban, on Friday, died at Westville Prison on Thursday.
The Department of Correctional Services confirmed the death of Joao Manuel de Oliveira Rendeiro, a former Portuguese Banker.
“The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) is able to confirm the unfortunate passing of Joao Manuel de Oliveira Rendeiro, who was remanded at Durban Westville Correctional Centre.
“The detainee was due to appear in court today, 13 May 2022. DCS has urgently launched an investigation in determining the cause and circumstances leading to his death,” DCS said on Friday.
DCS spokesperson Singabhakho Nxumalo said his body was found in a prison cell before midnight on Thursday evening.
National Prosecuting Authority KwaZulu-Natal spokesperson Natasha Ramkissoon-Kara said Rendeiro’s pre-trial conference for his extradition was set for May 20.
During the course of the week, Kara said the NPA received word that Rendeiro ‘s lawyer would no longer be working on his case.
“The State then requisitioned for Rendeiro to appear in the Verulam Magistrates’ Court today so that legal issues can be addressed before next week’s pre-trial conference.
“Prior to today’s proceedings, the State was informed that Rendeiro had passed away. The NPA is awaiting confirmation of this,” she said.
The case has been postponed to 20 May for the court to confirm his death and deliberate a way forward.
The suspect was arrested in December last year in the Umhlanga Rocks area, north of Durban. He was on the run for his alleged involvement in fraud charges to the tune of around R740 million.
Spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo said the convicted fraudster was wanted by the Portuguese government.
“Mr Joao Manuel de Oliveira Rendeiro is a Portuguese national who absconded from Portugal after being convicted on a multi-million dollar fraud case and sentenced to 12 years imprisonment before he escaped,” Naidoo said in an earlier IOL report.