The man who allegedly tried to rob a bank at the Menlyn Maine shopping centre in Pretoria has been identified as a former investigator for the now-defunct Scorpions.
Two of his former colleagues confirmed to News24 that the suspect, who was arrested on Tuesday morning, was Mossie Mostert.
News24 was also told by both sources that Mostert had allegedly been suffering financially.
Since leaving the directorate of special operations (the Scorpions) and police, Mostert had been plying his trade as a private investigator at a company called Mostert Security Solutions.
According to the police, the suspect was believed to have entered an Absa Bank at around 11:15 and walked straight to a bank teller, before handing over a note.
He had disguised himself, wearing a wig, and entered the bank with a device, which he later revealed to be a bomb.
Police spokesperson Captain Colette Weilbach said the note stated he had a bomb and he wanted an undisclosed amount of money. The bank teller then pressed the silent alarm.
“Security immediately reacted and evacuated the whole shopping centre. The police responded and arrested the man inside the bank. A firearm was confiscated,” Weilbach said.
The police’s bomb squad and K9 units were called to the scene to inspect the device. While the sniffer dogs initially reacted positively to the device, the bomb disposal unit found that it was not a bomb but that the man had sprinkled gunpowder on the device to give it authenticity.
Several employees working at different stores had no idea what was transpiring, only telling News24 the alarm had gone off and that security had asked them to leave the centre and wait at the designated areas.
One employee at a store, who did not want to be named, said he had seen employees of the bank, which were allegedly held up, and that they looked stressed out.
A paramedic source on the scene said bank employees were receiving trauma counselling.
By 15:00 on Tuesday, the shopping centre was declared safe by the police and reopened.
Mostert is expected to appear in the Hatfield Community Court soon on charges of making a false threat and attempted bank robbery.