Confusion in Norwood arms cache case
Something doesn’t seem to gel in the widely-reported case of the arrest of three suspects and the hunt for a fourth after police raided a Norwood home almost next door to the police station this month and uncovered a cache of illegal weapons, explosives and drugs.
Despite regular updates on the case by SAPS’ and Hawks’ spokespeople, the names, relationships and nationalities of the suspects seem to be a moving target. There also seems to have been a media misunderstanding after SAPS Commissioner Riah Phiyega was quoted in THE STAR that police were following the trail of a “huge crime syndicate boss” which was subsequently confused in other media reports which stated that the arrested man was he.
What seems clear from the published information is that three of the four people in the house at the time were arrested, that two were remanded in custody and one – the supposed “kingpin” – is on the run.
RIGHT: There was no shortage of police resources on hand for the raid.
The only consistent identity seems to be that of the family’s Malawian domestic worker, Endi Nkhoma, 26, who appeared this week in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on charges of illegally possessing prohibited weapons, explosives and ammunition, and dagga.
The long-time occupants of the house continue to be named as either Shmukler-Tishko or Shumler-Tishko. They are variously quoted as being of Eastern European, Russian and Ukrainian origin but it does seem clear that their paths to South Africa were via Israel – where Mark served in the IDF – and from where they relocated to South Africa between 22 and 25 years ago, depending on which newspaper one is reading.
Differing reports of exactly which members of the “S-Tishko” family were arrested is also puzzling. Media reports all agree that 59-year-old Mark “S-Tishko” was arrested and is being held pending the bail hearing. But that’s where the information takes another turn.
Emma “S-Tishko” is Mark’s 62-year-old wheelchair-bound wife. Nelly “S-Tishko” is the couple’s daughter. Various police and media reports have one or the other as having been arrested.
LEFT: THE TIMES published this picture of “lawyers Modesto Saladino and Larry Marks with Emma Shmukler-Tishko and her daughter Nelly outside the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court”.
In the raid police recovered more than 300 handguns, hundreds of automatic and semiautomatic rifles, including military-issue sniper rifles, and commercial explosives.
Hawks spokesman Captain Paul Ramaloko said: “There is no denying that these guns were found at the house.”
This was clearly a cache of note
“The accused must now explain to the court what https://www.sajr.co.za/images/default-source/default-album/norwood-arms-raid2.jpg” alt=”Norwood arms raid2″ title=”Norwood arms raid2″ />
RIGHT: The “S-Tishko” house during the raid.
Ramaloko said detectives were looking for another eastern European who was central to the police investigation.
“His arrest will answer a lot of questions we have about these guns and who, exactly, they were being supplied to,” Ramaloko said.
The story originally broke last Sunday in CITY PRESS and has been churning in the media all week.
‘Most wanted’ arms cache suspect a ‘kind man’
ENCA.com quoted National Police Commissioner Riyah Phiyega as saying the arrested the man had been on a ‘most wanted’ list, that police also arrested the suspect’s daughter and a domestic worker.
“At the suspect’s house, a woman in a wheelchair, believed to be the suspect’s wife seemed dazed and confused,” said the ENCA report. “Phiyega also said the suspect controls a huge syndicate and the arms cache was part of the Crime Intelligence’s drive to catch the top 15 syndicates in the country.” It now appears that she was referring to the man on the run.
The channel also interviewed perplexed neighbours who expressed shock at the news. “I cannot believe this. He was the type of man who will come around and give condolences when there’s been a death in the neighbourhood,” said one unnamed resident.
The house, where the arms cache was found, is just a few metres away from the Norwood police station. Neighbours knew the suspect, Mark, as a Russian national. He was friendly and always greeted everyone.
They said the suspect would walk his dog, using a walking stick at odd hours of the morning and evening.
LEFT: Heavy weapons for sale and hire
“I cannot believe this. He was the type of man who will come around and give condolences when there’s been a death in the neighbourhood,” said Carlos Alves, who stays opposite the suspect’s house. He was a short, stocky and friendly guy.”
Another neighbour, who declined to be named, described the suspect as a “nice, normal, sweet and kind man.”
Was mom or daughter arrested?
SAJR is unable to establish the answer to this question. However, on the preponderance of reportage, it would seem that mother Emma was the one arrested and allowed out of custody due to her ailing, crippled condition.
The couple’s daughter, Nelly, said her father still drove the car he bought 22 years ago when her parents moved to South Africa from Israel.
Police suspect that the weapons and explosives were rented out or sold to ATM bombers, hijackers and cash-in-transit gangs. A police investigator close to the case told THE TIMES that the suspects were the subjects of a high-level investigation into a “guns for hire” syndicate that supplied weapons and explosives to criminals.
“They look like a normal elderly suburban couple but there is more to this than meets the eye.
“Explanations are needed. Just look at the weapons found … not your normal firearms … military and paramilitary weapons, sniper rifles … not something you simply walk into a gun store and buy.”
A frail and bewildered-looking ‘S-Tishko’ told The Times outside the court that she was in shock. “We have lived in our house for 25 years. I do not know how these things got there,” she said.
“We are destitute … we live a modest lifestyle, not what the police are saying.”