Joburg city defrauders to stand trial

2011-12-14 18:33
Pretoria - A disbarred lawyer whose clients included the likes of former Springbok rugby player James Dalton and singer Steve Hofmeyr will stand trial in April along with six others for allegedly defrauding the City of Johannesburg out of millions of rands.

Pretoria-based lawyer Peet Viljoen his co-accused Johannesburg lawyer Edwin Risimate Maringa, Viljoen's employees Ronel van Vuuren, 44, and Anelene van der Berg, 50, along with Dorah Madiso, a property manager at the Johannesburg Property Company (JPC) were told by Magistrate Dawie Jacobs in the Pretoria Commercial Crimes Court that they would stand trial on fraud and corruption charges on April 2.

Wiets Nel and Edmund Sibisi will also join them in the dock.

During Viljoen and Maringa's bail hearing in August 2010, investigating officer Captain Jan Judeel told the court that a syndicate identified property of the Johannesburg City Council's JPC and created fraudulent documents, pretending these properties had been sold to a company in which Maringa had a 100% shareholding, or a close corporation in which he had an interest.

His office assistant Wayne Ernest Africa was the only director of the CC.

Africa was fired after it became known that he had turned State witness.

The syndicate would allegedly find people to buy the property from the company or the CC.

Judeel testified at the time that payment for the property went into Viljoen's legal firm's trust account and that he acted as conveyance attorney.

Accomplices at the Pretoria deeds office then transferred the property to the seller in a fraudulent manner.

Worth over R100m

The market value of the properties involved was more than R100m.

Judeel testified then that people at the deeds office and the Johannesburg City Council might also be arrested.

It was not immediately clear on Wednesday if Nel and Sibisi were those people or what their alleged role was.

In September this year two North Gauteng High Court judges ruled that it was in the interest of the law profession and the public that Viljoen was barred from practising.

Pretoria News reported at the time that this followed an application by the Law Society of the Northern Provinces which investigated Viljoen’s conduct after complaints by the public.

The society had recommended to the court that Viljoen’s name should be struck off the roll.

According to the Pretoria News the complaints against him included one by Dalton, Hofmeyr and a complaint by friend and former business associate Visser du Plessis.

Viljoen told the newspaper that he would be appealing the ruling made by the court and that in relation to the 54 fraud and 51 corruption charges he faces, he was the man who let the cat out of the bag.

"I was in fact the whistleblower," he was quoted as saying.
Read more on:    johannesburg  |  corruption

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