Burt Prinslo, who is on trial for the Krion pyramid scheme, leaves the Pretoria High Court. Picture by: Phill Magakoe

The master brain behind the Krion scheme, Marietjie Prinsloo, was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment on 118 409 charges, including racketeering and money laundering.

Almost eight years after they were arrested, Prinsloo and members of her family, whose R1,5-billion investment scheme left thousands of investors penniless, were sentenced in the High Court in Pretoria.

Judge Cynthia Pretorius found that although there were mitigating circumstances to justify lesser sentences than the minimum of life imprisonment prescribed for racketeering, the crimes were of such a serious nature that direct imprisonment was the only apt sentence for six of the seven accused.

Prinsloo's former husband, Burt Prinsloo, daughter Yolanda Lemstra and niece Izabel Engelbrecht were each effectively sentenced to 12 years imprisonment.

Yolanda's husband, Gerrit, was sentenced to an effective 15 years imprisonment, while Prinsloo's son Cobus Pelser will go to jail for five years.

Izabel's husband, Hendrik, was the only one of the accused to escape a jail sentence after being given a suspended sentence on two charges.

Burt Prinsloo was found guilty on 29 904 charges, Yolanda Lemstra on 78 110, her husband Gerrit on 42 609, Cobus Pelser on 62 554 and Izabel Engelbrecht on 62 567.

The charges ranged from racketeering to money laundering, fraud, theft, and contravening legislation pertaining to banks, companies, close corporations and income tax.

Judge Pretorius ordered that the department of health and social development must investigate the circumstances of the five minor children of Prinsloo, her daughter and niece to ensure that they were properly cared for and remained in regular contact with their parents.

The children would be in the care of family members while their parents were in jail.

Judge Pretorius said Marietjie Prinsloo and the majority of her co-accused had taken part in a pattern of racketeering and had kept on taking deposits from the public even after the trade and industry department forbade her to do so.

She was in charge and had known from the start that the scheme was unlawful, yet had involved her family and kept the true facts from authorities, investigators and her own attorneys.

The judge said it was mitigating that all of the accused had lost everything they owned, along with their investors, and that all of them were first offenders.

None of the accused however had taken responsibility for their deeds to this day.

Marietjie Prinsloo still blamed her attorneys, her co-accused blamed her and all of them felt they should not have been convicted.

Judge Pretorius said she had taken into account that 75 percent of the investors had been older than 40 years, while 28 of them were between the ages of 50 and 97, which confirmed that many of them were pensioners who had invested their retirement packages in the scheme. - Sapa