Ronaldo (Arashad Smith)
Status: At large
Organisation/s: Islamic State (suspected)
Nationality/ies: South African
Travel History: Syria (attempted); Mozambique
Ronaldo (Arashad) Smith (alleged to be in the back row, second from the right) was an accomplice of Brandon-Lee and Tony-Lee Thulsie in the years leading up to their arrest in 2016. According to investigator Wynand Olivier, Smith attempted to travel with the twins to Syria before they were prevented from doing so by the special police unit, the Hawks, in 2015. Olivier further claimed that he began investigating Smith’s links to the Thulsie twins after finding he had the Islamic State flag as his profile picture and praised jihadists on social media. On the day of their arrest in July 2016, the Hawks initially raided Smith’s home, who at this point, allegedly agreed to become a state witness for the case against the twins. State prosecutors were keen to use Smith’s testimony to build a case against the twins and therefore placed Smith under witness protection and was interrogated.
Smith claimed his statements implicating the twins were made under duress, including threats made against his wife and in-laws. Gauteng spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Phindi Louwhe, stated Smith would continue as a “hostile witness”, thus refusing to disregard submitted statements.
Smith escaped witness protection a few months after the arrests were made. His whereabouts for the past four years have been unknown until it emerged in September 2020 that he may have fled to Mozambique. It was on this basis the Thulsie twins’ latest bail application in October 2020 was denied due to concerns they may flee to Mozambique.
It remains unclear whether Smith has joined Ansar al-Sunna (wa Jama’a) in the embattled province of Cabo Delgado. The featured image is yet to be verified despite wide speculation that it was taken in Mozambique and features Smith.
Featured Image Source: Islamic State arrival in Mozambique further complicates Cabo Delgado violence