Johannesburg - A conman convicted of masterminding fraud and other offences totalling R2 million at SA post offices has asked a high court for leniency because of his ties with Tokyo Sexwale.
The fraudster, who had committed the offences around Joburg, told the Johannesburg High Court he was a prominent ANC member and had such good relations with Sexwale that the Human Settlements minister had offered him a job at Mvelaphanda.
Onasis Maxam told the court the ANC bigwig had recently hired him as his political adviser.
“I’ve recently found employment from Mr Tokyo Sexwale. I’m a political adviser. I’m a prominent ANC member in the Ekurhuleni region and I play a very significant role in the upliftment of poor people in my community,” said Maxam, 36.
“I’m currently acquiring mining rights from a coal mine in Mozambique… so, I still have a lot to contribute to this country,” he told the court.
But State advocate Willemien Vos referred to a proposed amendment aimed at rooting out the rot from the ruling party.
“There was an article about ANC members convicted of theft and corruption… that they should be expelled. What do you have to say?” asked Vos.
“Yes, it is still being debated. It is not policy yet,” Maxam said.
Asked why he had committed the 48 crimes, including fraud, racketeering, aggravated robbery, and possessing a firearm and ammunition illegally, Maxam denied this and added that he had a kidney problem – a “deadly disease” – that could kill him at any time.
“So you are denying the crimes?” asked Vos.
“Yes,” said Maxam, prompting Judge George Maluleke to remark: “There’s something called remorse.”
Maxam then apologised to the SA Post Office for the crimes committed against it, and the pain and suffering of its employees.
“First of all, I’d like to apologise for the loss suffered by the company and by those who were hurt. I saw some of them in the dock, so I’m very remorseful,” he said.
The former branch manager at the Tembisa South post office was convicted along with Lesiba Marakalala, Malesela Ledwaba, Funeka Ndlela, Jabulile Molotsane, Maphuti Pitjeng and Bongani Nkosi. Co-accused Fanie Mahlangu and Lawrence Nkomoje have since died.
Mostly comprising branch managers and tellers, the gang cloned people’s IDs and used them to open savings accounts at various branches around Ekurhuleni.
They would then credit these accounts with money and withdraw the money the same day, causing the post office huge losses.
The biggest transaction was made in July 2008, when syndicate members transferred R1.2m into five postbank accounts in Pretoria.
Sentencing continues on Tuesday.
Sexwale’s spokesman, Xolani Xundu, said he would check Maxam’s claims with the minister.