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From driving a Merc to living in a shack. This is how a KZN investment scam destroyed a widow

Nov 2021 - Durban - Thembi Nene went from driving a Mercedes to living in a shack after investing money in a scheme offered by a company that is now under provisional liquidation. Picture: Duncan Guy

Nov 2021 - Durban - Thembi Nene went from driving a Mercedes to living in a shack after investing money in a scheme offered by a company that is now under provisional liquidation. Picture: Duncan Guy

Published Nov 27, 2021


Widowed Thembi Nene seemed in for a good life when she invested her late husband’s pension in a scheme recommended to her by a neighbour.

She took out loans for a house and a luxury car. The Dundee-based company that allegedly was involved, investing in working trucks no longer operates, and her house and car have been repossessed.

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Now, home is an “mjondolo” shack in the Uganda informal settlement, near Mariannhill.

She has to borrow money for taxi trips to Pinetown or to Pietermaritzburg, as she had done on occasion to follow court proceedings in the Coin-It case.

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The company behind the alleged Ponzi scheme that attracted hundreds of investors, was provisionally liquidated in February last year.

The National Director of Public Prosecutions has so far obtained three preservation orders in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act to freeze assets purchased directly and indirectly with money received by Coin-It from investors.

“These assets were bought using funds provided by Coin-It, which were obtained from investors under the pretext that their money would be used to buy earthmoving equipment, trucks and heavy duty vehicles, and that these vehicles would be leased to third parties,” read a statement issued on behalf of one group of investors.

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Investors were told they would benefit from these earnings. It went on to say that the liquidators had found no evidence that Coin-It ever acquired such equipment or vehicles.

“Coin-It began to run out of funds to pay investors during June 2019, resulting in a liquidation application being brought by some of the investors.”

Three investors have reportedly committed suicide over their losses.

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Coin-It is no longer operating, according to one of the parties seeking a rescission of the asset forfeiture order and, when called for comment, the person who answered the phone said she had been instructed not to comment.

Meanwhile, another group of investors is behind the company director’s application before the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Tuesday for a rescission of the asset forfeiture order. They believe this will allow them access to documents that will help their chances of recovering money.

Nene, who belongs to this group, broke down when she met the Independent on Saturday after borrowing taxi money to travel to Pinetown.

“I now wash people’s clothes but there hasn’t been much of that work with Covid around,” she said.

She is anxiously awaiting the outcome of a court case at the Pietermaritzburg High Court next week, in the hope it will eventually lead to the recovery of their money.

Nene had invested R550 000, which was the entire amount her late husband had left her and their seven children.

She said he had been a driver at the Kloof SPCA. She said she had hoped her investment would double and that she would receive enough monthly dividends to support the family.

Two of their seven children were at university, studying medicine and law. She said she was promised R46 000 in monthly dividends in the first three months of investing, doubling to R96 000 within six months.

She saw only four months’ payments, until August 2019. She suffered heart complications and was hospitalised because of stress caused by the loss of money.

Conflicts erupted in her family. Her relatives and children have cut ties with her, accusing her of misusing the money, she said. Her law student son tried to commit suicide because he could not complete his studies.

“Liquidation has affected me and my family badly, my children have gone to live with relatives and I no longer have a good relationship with my other family members.

“I was admitted to a private hospital for heart surgery and was then moved to a public hospital because my medical aid had collapsed, and I lost my house and my Mercedes was repossessed because I could no longer afford to pay,” she said.

The Independent on Saturday