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Union fraud claim doubles

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union fraud

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Sam Buthelezi, Richard Kawie and lawyer Rooshdeen Rudolph outside the Cape Town Magistrate's Court. Photo: Tracey Adams

Investigations into the alleged embezzlement of South African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (Sactwu) members’ provident funds have become complex and the value of the alleged fraud has doubled, the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court heard on Thursday.

The two men at the centre of the allegations are businessman Sam Buthelezi and former Sactwu consultant Richard Kawie.

The State alleges on the charge sheet that the men defrauded thousands of union members of their provident funds to the tune of R146m and invested it through Buthelezi’s asset management company, Trilinear, between March 2009 and February last year.

About six months ago, the men were released on R500 000 bail each.

Thursday was their first appearance in the magistrate’s court since their release on bail.

State advocate Malini Govender informed the court that the case had become more “complex” and asked for a postponement so the police could conduct further

investigations.

“It became necessary to increase the ambit of the investigation in light of the evidence gathered,” Govender said, adding that the value of the fraud had increased to R300m.

She said the number of transactions, entities and individuals under scrutiny had increased.

“Legal entities involved in trusts and CC’s are in excess of 100. Bank accounts are 110 and further Financial Services Board reports still have to be finalised, which will form the subject matter of (further) charges.

“By no means is this a simple investigation. It is a complex matter,” Govender said. She added that a team of investigators have been looking into the allegations.

Buthelezi’s lawyer, Rooshdeen Rudolph and Kawie’s lawyer, Henrico Groenewald, objected to the State’s request for the case to be postponed.

The lawyers argued that the case should be struck from the roll, claiming the charges were based on information gathered from Buthelezi’s business’s separate liquidation inquiry.

After an adjournment, Magistrate Zwelindumile Sogwagwa said striking the matter from the roll would prejudice all parties.

“Each case must be dealt with on its own merits and the circumstances regarding this investigation is complex. Therefore a delay (postponement) in this case isn’t unreasonable,” Sogwagwa said.

However, the magistrate marked it as a final postponement for further investigation.

The next court appearance will be on January 23.

jade.witten@inl.co.za

Cape Argus


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