Escapee accused of R20 mln fraud back in dock

2010-07-28 00:00

MULTI-MILLION rand fraud accused Sipho Msomi and a former court orderly whom he allegedly enlisted to falsify documents to aid his escape from custody in December 2008 made another brief appearance in the regional court in Pietermaritzburg yesterday.

The trial, in which Msomi and his co-accused — former police constable Sihle Njilo — face four counts of fraud, corruption and defeating the ends of justice arising from the escape, was due to start before regional court magistrate Kevin Leat this week.

However, the proceedings were delayed due to Msomi’s request that he be allowed to appoint an attorney to defend him.

Msomi and Njilo had previously elected to represent themselves at the trial.

Njilo yesterday confirmed that he does not wish to appoint an attorney, despite being advised by Leat that complex legal issues may arise in the case.

Njilo, who is on bail, was warned to appear in court again on August 13, while Msomi, who remains in custody, is due to appear today to finalise his legal representation.

According to the charge sheet, Msomi was arrested on a charge of fraud on November 10, 2007, and held in custody pending his trial.

At some stage he and Njilo allegedly became friends.

Msomi — and possibly others unknown to the state — allegedly approached Njilo and asked him to process forged and false requisition forms, body receipts and warrants for detention on Msomi’s behalf.

In exchange for his help, Njilo stood to receive some form of reward, the nature of which is also said to be unknown to the state.

Njilo allegedly agreed and subsequently processed and introduced the false documentation relating to Msomi’s incarceration and arraignment in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court.

In doing so, Msomi was able to give the impression that his presence at the magistrate’s court on specific dates was valid and official.

Between October 8 and December 9, 2008, the two accused allegedly deceived various state officials in that way.

It is alleged that on December 9, 2008, Msomi managed to escape from custody due to the actions of Njilo.

•The Witness reported that Msomi was re-arrested in Port Elizabeth in September 2009 by members of the Pietermaritzburg commercial branch.

He faces allegations in a separate pending trial that he was involved in defrauding state departments of about R20 million.

Msomi allegedly did this by installing a type of “spy”software on government computers that was used to access user identities and passwords of employees to facilitate the theft of money.

 

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