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An East Rand woman will never get to spend her R1.2 million “inheritance” from her grandfather after a judge ruled the money was the proceeds of crime.
The KwaThema woman’s explanations for the cash found stashed under blankets in a back room did not convince the judge.
First she said she had inherited the money from her grandfather and later that she had won it at the casino.
The fact that a bag with 3kg of dagga was found next to the cash convinced the police, and later Judge Selby Baqwa, that the money was the proceeds of crime.
The judge on Friday ordered the cash be forfeited to the State in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.
Judge Baqwa said Busisiwe Elizabeth Motsepe’s explanation for the money and the dagga did not add up.
Police searched the woman’s home on December 10, 2010, after a tip-off on dagga-dealing at the premises. After searching various sections of the property, a sniffer dog led police to a back room. Motsepe was asked to open the door, but said she did not have a key. The police forced it open.
Inside they found a wooden kist with linen and blankets. When police lifted the bedding, they found more than R1.2m.
The money, in R100 and R50 notes, was arranged in bundles of R20 000 and R30 000.
A plastic bag with dagga was found next to the kist. Questioned about the dagga, Motsepe said she picked it up in her yard and was going to question one of her tenants about it, but the police arrived first.
Questioned about the money, she claimed she inherited it from her late grandfather. She later changed her tune and said she’d won it at a casino. She then reverted back to her initial explanation.
Judge Baqwa said under normal circumstances one would deposit large amounts of cash in a bank to earn interest. Motsepe could not properly explain why she chose to keep her inheritance stashed in a kist, in the back room of her house.
“This is made even more mysterious and suspicious when she tried to deny access to police to enter the room. The mystery deepens further when bags of dagga are found next to the kist containing the money.”
The judge said all this must be weighed against the fact that she is unemployed and that her grandfather was a labourer.
Motsepe told the court she stashed the money in her home because she did not want to pay tax on it.
The judge said her family were also unaware that her grandfather had left her more than R1.2m, nor was it recorded anywhere.
Motsepe, in defending the application by the National Director of Public Prosecutions to forfeit the money, said she was never successfully prosecuted due to insufficient evidence. But Judge Baqwa said in terms of the proceeds of crime act a successful prosecution is not required.
Her version was riddled with improbabilities, he said. “The sum of R1 224 500 is the proceeds of unlawful activities.”