A very happy Advocate Philip Higgo of the Cape High Court with GSCID Response Officer Luwuyiso Magobane and the safely returned briefcase.

A very happy Advocate Philip Higgo of the Cape High Court with GSCID Response Officer Luwuyiso Magobane and the safely returned briefcase.

 

Monday 7 January started out like any other day for Advocate Philip Higgo of the CapeHigh Court. A routine stop at a Woodstock hardware store, however, set in motion a chain of events that had this respected legal man questioning his own mental state. “It was simultaneously the worst day and the best day that I can recall in many years,” says Higgo.

Shortly after 4pm that afternoon he parked his car directly opposite the store to purchase a metal bracket. He ensured that as he exited his car he heard the familiar sound of the remote locking even though he knew he would only be away from his vehicle for a short period.

Having completed his purchase, Advocate Higgo returned to his car and as he placed the shopping bag behind the driver’s seat he noticed that his briefcase, which he had placed there when leaving home that morning, was no longer there. A thorough search of the car, including a check of the boot, produced no results. Certain that he had left the brief case there that morning, he nonetheless wondered whether he had perhaps, in a moment of absent-mindedness, taken the briefcase with him into the store. A comprehensive search of the store and questioning of sales staff also yielded no results. Still convinced that he could not have been the victim of theft, Higgo believed that his mind was playing tricks on him.

“For a moment I thought I was losing my mind,” he admits. “I knew that I had placed the briefcase behind the driver’s seat out of sight, concealed by a shopping bag. Yet on my return to the car, there was no sign of it, but also no sign of forced entry anywhere.” A call to his wife and then his domestic worker at home and a thorough search of the house also came up empty. Subsequent calls to the local Woodstock police station, the senior management of the store and attempts to view store security footage all yielded a blank.

When all avenues of the whereabouts of his briefcase had been exhausted, “the unequivocal realisation,” says Higgo, “slowly began setting in that I had probably been the victim of theft as a result of a signal jammer. While I was convinced that I had locked the car and heard the remote signal confirming this, a jammer had in all likelihood been used to block this signal.”

By now frantic with worry at the potential loss, he began a mental checklist of all the contents of his briefcase. Although containing little of monetary value, beside a leather pen case and pens, as well as a leather bound cheque book, “the bag was ‘chock a block’ full of extremely important papers, my identity documents, invoices for my legal practice and various other project files,” says Higgo.

Reluctantly Higgo returned to his office, still stymied by the incident. “I sat at my desk and felt like crying” he said. He was still sitting there in disbelief when moments later his cell phone rang. A voice at the other end, he recalls, said something about a briefcase having been found. Highly suspicious that this was yet another step in the drama of his day, Higgo thought he was possibly being set up to be lured to a destination where he would be ambushed.

At a crucial moment in the conversation, the cell signal died. Higgo called the number back and was surprised to hear the voice at the other end continue with words of GSCID and Mowbray railway terminus, still none of it quite fully making sense. After a few minutes, a glimmer of hope arose as the news that his briefcase had been found began to dawn on him.

The person calling him, who had by now identified himself as GSCID Response Officer, Luwuyiso Magobane, began to explain how, while on foot patrol over the MowbrayBridge, he had spotted a very distinctive handcrafted leather briefcase obscured behind vegetation.

“I was initially scared of opening the briefcase in case it contained a bomb”, says Magobane, “and also did not want to open the case without another witness being present.” He then called his supervisor to meet with him. Together they went back to the GSCID offices on Mowbray Main Road and searched the contents of the bag for a possible clue to the ownership of the case. After sifting through reams of papers, the two patrolmen eventually came upon a cell number which pointed to the possible owner, resulting in the call to Advocate Higgo.

A dash from town to Mowbray transport interchange, resulted in the by now very frazzled, yet extremely relieved Advocate meeting up with Officer Magobane. “I could have kissed him,” beams Higgo. “It was miraculous! In the space of 90 minutes, Officer Magobane had turned my worst day into my best day.” A quick perusal of the contents of the briefcase revealed that all was intact. Together Higgo and Magobane surmised that the “hot property” must have been hurriedly ditched for later retrieval.

Advocate Higgo, who has been in the criminal justice service for 35 years, commended Officer Magobane not only for his high level of alertness during his patrol and discovery of the briefcase, but also his mindfulness of the possible danger of a bomb and his smart action in calling his superior to witness the opening of the briefcase and its contents. Higgo further cited his conduct as highly exemplary behavior to others in the patrol industry.

A smiling Magobane said: “It’s all in the line of duty,” stating that he was only too happy that he was able to successfully reunite the bag with its rightful owner, particularly given the irreplaceable nature of its contents.

Officer Magobane has been awarded a GSCID Badge of Excellence for his savvy conduct. GSCID Operations Manager, CharlBrooks: “We are extremely proud to have Officer Magobane on our team and his behavior is a fine example to others.”

 

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