Picture: African News Agency (ANA)
JOHANNESBURG – The SA Police Service’s Organised Crime Unit is closing in on a group of "rogue" liquidators and a lawyer accused of serious crimes.

The investigation is believed to encompass corruption, fraud and money laundering among some of the country's top liquidators.

Insiders said search-and-seizure operations had been carried out at the homes and workplaces of two of the 11 suspected liquidators.

One of the insiders said more raids were expected.

The source said the investigation was the result of the new national director of public prosecutions, advocate Shamila Batohi, cracking the whip on the long-standing matter.

Liquidators targeted by the police include Johan Francois Engelbrecht, who advocated for the removal of joint Pamodzi Gold liquidators Enver Motala and Gavin Gainsford in 2014.

In 2009, Aurora directors, including Khulubuse Zuma and Zondwa Mandela, were accused of asset-stripping Pamodzi Gold Mines in Gauteng and North West in an exercise that led to R1.4 billion in damages and losses of gold. The directors were held liable for damages of R1.5bn by the Supreme Court of Appeal in 2016.

Business Report has seen explosive affidavits from various whistle-blowers detailing how Engelbrecht, who is the owner and managing director of Insolvency Practitioners, allegedly conspired with his alleged lover, Christene Rossouw, to have Motala removed from the Pamodzi Estates and the Master’s panel of liquidators. Rossouw is a senior official at the Master's office in Pretoria, according to the affidavit.

The other allegations against the liquidators pertain to forgery, uttering and intimidation.

A former employee who worked for Engelbrecht as an administrator of insolvent and liquidated estates from 2011 to 2014, wrote in the affidavit: “I have observed that Rossouw, who is a senior official at the Master’s office in Pretoria, has an inappropriate relationship with Engelbrecht.”

The affidavit reads in part: “I am aware that Mr Enver Motala was removed from the Pamodzi Estates and from the Master’s panel of liquidators as the result of decisions taken by Ms Christene Rossouw.”

Rossouw allegedly told the former employee that she and Engelbrecht had been “sleeping together for some time now”. “Engelbrecht said to Icon’s staff during 2011/13 that he assisted Rossouw in appointing an investigator to find ‘dirt’ on Mr Motala.”

The former staffer wrote about witnessing various meetings between Engelbrecht, attorney Johnny Walker and Rossouw at the former’s residence in Pretoria East to discuss Motala’s removal from the Pamodzi matters as a joint provisional liquidator, among other things. “On various occasions, Engelbrecht boasted to me and the other Icon employees that he played a crucial role in Mr Motala’s removal from the Pamodzi matters and from the Master’s panel,” the affidavit reads.

“Engelbrecht also boasted to me and other Icon employees that he was a man not to be messed with.”

Walker refused to comment on the issue, saying it was the subject of a court case to be heard in the North Gauteng High Court this week.

Engelbrecht said the allegations were hearsay and that the matter was sub judice. “That’s absolutely nonsense. You know what: this is not the first time that this is coming up; these sorts of things.”

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Kay Makhubela did not immediately respond to questions.