The investigating officer in the Al-Noor Orphanage case said he had received credible information that Amina Okpara planned to sell her assets and flee to Nigeria. Picture: Vincent Cruywagen/Cape Argus
Cape Town - The investigating officer in the Al-Noor Orphanage case said he had received credible information from more than three people that the accused would flee the country at the very first opportunity she could get.

This was part of the affidavit from Michael Darries, attached to the directorate crime investigation, read out by prosecutor Adiel Jansen in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.

The affidavit was handed in as arguments for the court not to grant bail to the accused, Amina Okpara, 47. She is facing three charges related to contravention of the Immigration Act and conspiracy to commit fraud.

The accused, who was the manager at the orphanage, was arrested on June14 after a sting operation carried out by the Hawks. Two days later, the orphanage was shut down and 17 children removed by the Department of Social Development. Okpara is accused of redirecting donor funds destined for the welfare of the children and centre operation into her bank accounts.

“My investigation reveals that a house is being built in Nigeria. I have it on good authority that Okpara has planned to flee to Nigeria and that she intends selling her assets. I have also found that the accused got fraudulent citizenship and her very existence in SA is based on a lie. I discovered that in 2012 the accused’s marriage was done fraudulently and I got three statements that she committed fraud to stay in Cape Town,” the affidavit reads.

Darries also revealed that in 2015, the accused was found guilty of forgery and fraud when she applied for a loan at Capitec. She was handed a three-year imprisonment sentence suspended for five years by the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court.

However, when the suspended sentence was still hanging over the accused, she was again arrested, charged with fraud. According to Darries, she allegedly conspired to commit fraud with Home Affairs officials in Pretoria, to solemnise her marriage.

Okpara in her affidavit said: “There exists an undeniable prejudice as I am incarcerated and am unsure as to the financial position of the orphanage. Should the current status quo continue in respect of my incarceration it could very well lead to my financial demise.”

She added her health was in a dire state and in June 2017 she suffered a brain haemorrhage and consequently a stroke. She also told the court she suffers from high blood pressure.

“The conditions in prison are similar if not worse than what I experienced in police holding cell. I submit that my health has substantially deteriorated as a result of my incarceration. I further submit that the Pollsmoor Correctional Services institute is not equipped to deal with persons suffering from ailments,” she said.

But this was dismissed by Darries, who said he personally ensured that she received her medication.

The matter has been postponed until Monday.

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