Westgate-linked Lewthwaite rented property, took loans in SA - reports
A British woman thought to be linked to the Westgate mall attacks used an assumed South African identity to take out bank loans and rent property in Johannesburg, said media reports on Wednesday.
Samantha Lewthwaite – wanted by Kenyan police for alleged involvement in a separate terror plot – used the known alias Natalie Faye Webb to rent at least three properties and run up debts of $8 600, according to eNews Channel Africa (eNCA).
The 29-year-old Muslim convert – nicknamed the "White Widow" after her husband was identified as one of the suicide bombers in the 2005 London attacks – signed rental leases around Johannesburg, but it was unclear whether she lived at any of the premises.
According to credit records released by eNCA, she was listed as living in Mayfair for four years.
Kenya's foreign minister said a British woman was among the attackers who shot dead dozens of people at a Nairobi shopping mall from Saturday.
President Uhuru Kenyatta later said the reports could not be confirmed.
But Kenyan authorities issued a wanted notice for Lewthwaite after she entered the country from Tanzania's north-eastern Lunga and Namanga border posts in February and August 2011 using a South African passport in the name of Webb.
Two months later, South African clothing stores signalled debt defaults worth almost $2 700.
In August 2012, a Johannesburg court issued an order against her for defaulting on $2 800 debt with South Africa's First Rand Bank.
Lewthwaite was married to Germaine Lindsay, one of four suicide bombers who attacked the London transport network in July 2005, killing 52 people.
A local terror expert and academic said earlier this week that she regularly travels to South Africa and stayed in Johannesburg earlier this year.
However, residents either denied Lewthwaite lived at the cited addresses or could not remember having seen her.
Close to a bustling street with shops, only rubble remained at the Mayfair address where two houses were demolished over a year ago.
"I have not seen her here before," said a neighbour who has lived across the road for seven years, speaking on condition of anonymity.
A man, who identified himself only as Junaid, said he was redeveloping the property – bought from a 65-year-old owner two years ago – and denied an English woman lived there.
On the other side of the city in the leafy suburb of Bromhof, neighbours who lived across the road from the house Lewthwaite was said to have rented since 2008, also could not recall her living there. – AFP.