Businessman in court for alleged fraud

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IOL news apr 16 gavel_nov 15 INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

A businessman accused of fraudulently selling a non-existent mobile coffee shop franchise appeared in the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court on Friday.

Michael Anthony Crause, who is conducting his own defence, asked for a postponement.

He said he was exhausted because he had spent a sleepless night studying documentation to prepare for the cross examination of businessman Mtunzi Malunga.

Crause is the former owner of the mobile coffee bar 2UCafe.

He told the court he was not familiar with cross-examination procedure, and needed time to obtain documentation to dispute testimony that Malunga paid R420,000 for franchise rights and shares in 2UCafe.

On Thursday, Malunga testified that Crause had convinced him and his family that the franchise was a good investment.

Crause faces three counts of fraud and one of fraudulent or reckless trading.

Prosecutor Tracy Bellelie alleges that Crause offered 2UCafe franchises for sale at a time when the business had been de-registered and was no longer in existence.

Magistrate Amrith Chabillal said the postponement would not have been necessary had Crause not ended his free attorney's mandate, as she was fully prepared for trial.

It was in the interests of justice to allow Crause a postponement until Monday, “but more as an indulgence than as a right”, he said.

Chabillal said this would seriously inconvenience witnesses who had come from as far as Johannesburg.

He said the trial had to be finalised and Crause's failure to obtain the required documents in time was his own fault.

“Be here at 8.30am on Monday, and be ready to commence your cross examination, with or without the documents in question,” Chabillal said. - Sapa

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