Man steals R1m but avoids prison

2011-10-12 22:46

Johannesburg - A Western Cape property developer received a suspended sentence on Wednesday for stealing more than R1m from the trust account of an attorney's firm.

Pieter Johannes Groenewald, of Durbanville, was sentenced to three years' imprisonment suspended for five years by the Specialised Commercial Crime Court in Bellville, Cape Town.

He was ordered to repay the money in monthly instalments of R5 000.

Magistrate Amrith Chabilall said: "You are not going to prison today, but if you fail to make any of the payments on due date, or at all, the suspended jail sentence will be put into operation."

It emerged in court that Groenewald manipulated a conveyancing secretary, employed by the attorney's firm to steal the money.

He appeared in his personal capacity and also as the chief executive of Dangene Property Developers (Pty) Ltd, which is under liquidation.

The company - cited as "accused number one" on the charge sheet, while Groenwald was the second accused - was fined R100 000.

According to the charge sheet, the company bought an erf (plot) in Eversdal, which was bonded by Standard Bank, for R6.4m.

The property developer then sub-divided the property into seven portions.

Standard Bank consented to the sub-division on payment of R1 151 865 to release the property from the bond.

The conveyancing attorneys, MHI, paid the required release money to Standard Bank by means of an electronic fund transfer, but for reasons not explained the bank rejected the payment.

The money thus landed back in MHI's trust account.

MHI simply had to re-deposit the money, but Groenewald persuaded a conveyancing secretary to allow him to personally pay the rejected amount back to Standard Bank, on MHI's behalf.

In order for Groenewald to do this, the secretary made out a trust cheque to Dangene Property Developers.

According to the charge sheet, Groenewald then deposited the cheque into Dangene's account, instead of paying it to Standard Bank as he had undertaken to do.

As a consequence, MHI had to make good Standard Bank's loss.

Groenewald was found not guilty of fraud, and was instead found guilty on the alternative charge of theft.

  • Alyson - 2011-10-12 23:09

    So what is the differnce in this case between "fraud and theft" ??

      cliffarc - 2011-10-13 08:02

      - Wow , our justice systen is getting real tough - that'll teach him. - What a joke - he will never repay the money nor see the inside of a jail.

      Green Oaks - 2011-10-13 09:00

      R5k a month. Easy way out. Will only take him 16 years to pay it, if it is interest free.

      Fred - 2011-10-13 09:46

      This is ridiculous. He can invest the R1mil and repay the R5k/pm out of the interest and still have the mill and more at the end.

      Wizard101 - 2011-10-13 10:30

      Steen look at your goverment then you open your beck been mouth! A hole!

      Megan - 2011-10-13 10:45

      I understand that crime is crime. But with the situation of the South African prisons being as over-crowded as they are already lesser sentences are given to people who are not necessarily dangerous to the public. I'm not saying I agree with it but the problems are so deep at the moment that we are going to be expected to just put up with this bull! Please stop going on about how it's only "whites" who don't get jail sentences, half of the government belong in jail for the amounts far, far exceeding 1million that they have stolen and they are all black. This person will now sit with a criminal record, he will NEVER be employable in a position where he could carry out the same crime. And while a million sounds like a load of money, it's probably already gone. He may very well find himself in a position where trying to find R5000 a month will be virtually impossible, possibly something like this may be the reason why he wasn't jailed. If there is any possibility that him being forced to pay the money back forces him into a life where money becomes scarce and living more difficult then that punishment certainly fits the crime. It might not be the case, but often when we read about what kind of judgement has been passed on someone we very seldom read about WHY that decision was made.

      GuyverXT9 - 2011-10-13 10:56

      HAHAHAHAHA. He's going to pay this off for almost 20 years. Worse than any jail sentence, ever!!

      LBS - 2011-10-13 15:04

      Too lenient!

      BulletProof. - 2012-12-12 11:07

      Youget jail for fraud and not for theft?

  • R.Suppards - 2011-10-12 23:44

    Is this really JUSTICE ?? A thief walks away with R1Million, and has to repay @ R5000per month. ABSOLUTE BOLLOCKS

      Marcxt500 - 2011-10-13 07:27

      A friend of mine us under debt review for about 300K and he has to pay back 5K a month... I dont know... 300k vs 1Bar...?

  • gatvol4corru - 2011-10-12 23:49

    Now he qualifies for a position in the ANC government! Thicker than thieves -- flock together

      daaivark - 2011-10-13 09:13

      With a name like Pieter Johannes Groenewald? I don't think so.

      Ashley - 2011-10-13 09:37

      @daaivark, well said, but WTF is he out and declared not guilty?????? This p*sses me off.

      dithala - 2011-10-13 10:05

      Yeh, daaivark believe what you are fed,propaganda made you what you are, you'll realize that everyone can be a criminal if you were smart.You always drive while under the influence of alcohol aren't you? and that is worse than hijacking.

      Megan - 2011-10-13 10:50

      A suspended sentence does not equal "not guilty". The punishment of having to pay the money back does not mean "not guilty". @Dithala: WTF?

      LBS - 2011-10-13 15:07

      Daaivark, what about Van Schalkwyk and Hofmeyr, they are in the ANC!!!

  • africanwolf - 2011-10-12 23:51

    This i call cheap credit :)

      cliffarc - 2011-10-13 08:29

      - Yep - R1.0m credit line for 17 years, free of interest. Where do we apply ?

  • FrankieM - 2011-10-13 00:15

    This will take him just on 17years to repay. WTF

      C_S - 2011-10-13 06:42

      that is if you don't take into account interest on the R1m. It will take almost 17 years just for the capital.

  • deminimus - 2011-10-13 00:27

    The sentence is only suspended for 5 years. The repayment period nearly 17. Even if he pays for 5 years I can't see the total debt being repaid.

      emile.eley - 2011-10-13 22:36

      In point of fact, after the five years he cannot be compelled to pay on pain of imprisonment, so he must be treated like any other civil debtor and could have the instalment reduced.

  • jekalo - 2011-10-13 05:38

    So, if he puts the R1 Million in a bond at just 6% his return will be more than the R5000 per month and he still gets the R1 Million for free.

  • DFSS - 2011-10-13 06:45

    What a joke he will never pay it back @ R5 000 / month not even the interest, he should stay in jail for years.

  • MnrFotograaf - 2011-10-13 07:36

    This is what happens when the legal system is in action, total injustice, it's time to get back to a lawfull system under common law, which would have seen this oke safely into jail.

  • letsee - 2011-10-13 07:46

    What ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

  • Peacock - 2011-10-13 08:05

    What I don't understand is..... He steals R 1 m. Why does he have to pay back only R 5 000 pm. Why does he not have to pay the FULL R 1m. It is in his account.??????????

  • Gilven - 2011-10-13 08:24

    This guy needs to be in jail. There are far too many of these bastards around. What is he going to do to pay back the money? He will just defraud some more people. That is what these people are about..... FFFFFFFAAAAAARK!! They don't belong in our society! Don't give them a chance to do more damage!

  • Enigma - 2011-10-13 08:31

    WTF. The judge won't pass Grade 1 maths! Even if he pays the R5000pm for the 5 years that the suspended sentence is valid, what happens if he defaults after that? Nothing? Lekker né! This guy is laughing all the way to the bank. Stupid judge???

  • DW - 2011-10-13 08:35

    Although it sticks in my crop that this man does not get jail time, the fact is that money stolen from trust accounts belongs to clients. If he goes to jail those clients never get their money back. If he has to repay every cent, at least they get their money back. If I was the client I think I would rather have my money back. I somehow doubt, though, that he will be able to make the payments. He has a criminal record now and no-one will employ him. I suspect that the suspended sentence will, at some stage, have to be implemented.

  • Antwahn - 2011-10-13 08:53

    I don't get the maths that this idiot magistrate works on. 1 mil. monthly paid off @ R5000. Would take 17 years -but what about the interest?!!! 5000 does not even service that? I know a bloody crook (ex in-law. Hi James T-F!) who stole millions -he gets COMMUNITY SERVICE!!! For stealing lifesavings from pensioners!

  • Julie - 2011-10-13 09:08

    Lol! R5 000 a month...really

  • daaivark - 2011-10-13 09:11

    Only R5000 a month? Great Scott.

  • Nathi - 2011-10-13 09:14

    I also want to be allowed to steal a million and avoid jail. At R5k per month repayment, he's still making R2500 that's not his from the interest of R1m. He should be made to repay R1m all at once.

  • Reedrat - 2011-10-13 09:43

    So you steal a million, buy a nice flat and let it out for R5000 or more to pay back the stolen money as per court order. Why oh why is the law always so soft at best and non existent at worst.

  • morena - 2011-10-13 09:45

    he was ordered to pay monthly intallements of 5000 hahahahaah, the interest he would get from that R1 Million is round about 9000 a month so he is actually get R4000 extra, this is not a punishment its a reward

  • Enuf_already - 2011-10-13 09:56

    This is not right! Is the justice system so bogged down with fraud, theft and corruption they all think it is a joke not a crime? Review the judgement.

  • WhiteLabel - 2011-10-13 10:08

    scentenced to 3 years? by that count, i'll gladly do the 3 years at R333 333.33 per annum. its nearly 3 times what i earn now....geez

  • sikabopha - 2011-10-13 10:12

    he got away with it.

  • Taff2 - 2011-10-13 10:19

    Why is this considered newsworthy? Our Government ministers are doing this on a daily basis-and are still allowed to continue in Parliament

  • moderfontein - 2011-10-13 10:29

    Yet another example, of one law for the wealthy and well connected and another for the poor. Just recently a young teenager was given 6 months in prison for stealing (sorry) meant frauding , (is their a diffrence)from his well connected employer. The judge in this case is not fit to try a unruly dog.

  • Gunston500 - 2011-10-13 10:45

    At least he did not steal it from the Tax Man!

  • Busiswe - 2011-10-13 11:03

    @ Steen. Exactly, no jail time time just like all the other white people including Jacob, Shabir, the Soba judge, Tony Yengeni. WHITE PEOPLE..EISH!

      Trextoo - 2011-10-13 12:51

      @Busiswe: Last time I saw photos of them, Yengeni, Shaik & Jacob were definitely not white. Or did the tokelosh overnight transform them? Eish!

  • Percy Higgins - 2011-10-13 12:14

    Afrikaners are crooks and scammers. Am I not surprised.

  • fireman - 2011-10-13 12:58

    ANC steal R 150 billion but avoid prison.

      Bongza.GP - 2011-10-13 13:23

      Imagine ANC walking into the prison showers, orange jump suit and soap-on-a-rope close by.

  • kilo39 - 2011-10-13 13:21

    We the people, cannot accept that justice has been served in this matter. May his piles fester and rot. king bastard!

  • zanele.mxunyelwa - 2012-12-12 13:25

    Oh no this promotes theft ...I mean R5000.00 repayment ..Give that man a Bell (:)

  • pages:
  • 1