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Durban - The bid to get a Vryheid attorney - who allegedly faked his death after being investigated for misappropriating funds - struck off the roll is set to resume now that he has been confirmed alive.

The Vryheid Herald reported at the weekend that Jan Adriaan Venter and his fiancée, Rozanne Vosloo, had been arrested while allegedly trying to flee the country.

It was reported at the time of Venter’s “death” in July that he had died of a heart attack and that his body had been identified by Vosloo and then cremated. The couple, according to the report, had been investigated by insurers Liberty Group for allegedly filing a false claim.

Police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala confirmed that the case of fraud was being investigated by Point police station. “It is alleged that on August 28, 2017 at 10am, the suspects submitted a fraudulent claim to the insurance company. Two suspects, aged 27 and 24, were arrested and charged. They appeared (on Friday) in the Durban Magistrate's Court.”

The Mercury made queries at the court and via the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) national communications office, but was unable to find out the outcome of this appearance or the date of their next appearance.

KZN Law Society president Asif Essa told The Mercury on Tuesday that investigations against Venter were first instituted in May this year. “He was being investigated for the alleged misappropriation of trust funds while handling a matter involving the transfer of immovable property. The investigations revealed a shortfall in the trust accounts.”

The amount was initially thought to be R3 million, but investigations later showed that it was in fact more than R4.5m. The society at the time - before he was declared “dead” - was also moving to get Venter struck of the roll of practising attorneys.

Essa said that there had been conflicting versions of Venter’s death, which was initially reported in July. These kinds of alleged wrongdoings, he said, put the entire profession into disrepute.

Meanwhile, Venter's former business partner Abrie Kilian - who now lives in Canada - told The Mercury that he had first reported the matter to the society in early November 2016.

“My initial reaction on learning of Mr Venter’s death was shock (and), upon learning of his resurrection, total disbelief. I seriously hope that the money (will) be returned to everyone that entrusted him with it. Mr Venter owes me a significant amount of money as well.” He said he was in Canada to attempt to recover some of his financial losses.

“My heart bleeds for our support staff, (many of whom) moved from another firm in Vryheid to his firm. Due to his irresponsibility, they are without employment.”

Kilian also said Venter deserved to be tried by a competent court of his peers, and not on social media.

The Mercury