More charges and more accused to be added to VBS looting case

By Siviwe Feketha Time of article published Jan 26, 2021

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The criminal case on the VBS looting scandal has been further postponed to March by the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday after the state indicated its intention to add charges to the seven accused as well as other suspects to the list of those criminally charged.

Prosecutor Hein van der Merwe said the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) wanted the matter to be remanded to afford the NPA time to secure the certificate from the National Director of Public Prosecutions Shamila Batohi’s panel for additions to be made to the indictment before the matter is transferred to the North Gauteng High Court for trial.

The seven people accused have been charged with fraud, money laundering and racketeering relating to the looting of over R2 billion from the VBS which resulted in its collapse and eventual liquidation.

Those currently in the dock for the VBS “heist” include its former chairperson Tshifhiwa Matodzi, former chief executive Andile Ramavhunga and former treasurer Phophi Mukhodobwane. Others included Public Investment Corporation representatives and VBS non-executive directors Ernest Nesane and Paul Magula, former KPMG auditor Sipho Malaba as well as another former VBS non-executive director, Lieutenant-General Avhashoni Ramikosi.

Former VBS chief financial officer Phillip Truter was sentenced to 10 years over the saga in October last year. Three years were suspended off his sentence after he confessed to his crimes and turned state witness.

Van der Merwe said the additional charges and additional accused had been the result of new information secured by the NPA since the matter was initially enrolled last year.

“The panel is going to be sitting shortly, we have been informed, for the further accused to be added,” he said.

He added that the indictment had been finalised and that the state was not intending to add any additional accused persons after the ones it currently wanted included.

The lawyer for Ramikosi, Rudzani Netshiavha, however expressed opposition to the application to postpone as he accused the state of prejudicing the accused by dragging out the matter.

Magistrate Philip Venter, however, said Van der Merwe had advanced reasons and a basis for the postponement of the matter.

The matter will be back in court on March 26.

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