Millionaire's convicted partner a good man - prison mate

2015-09-15 12:08
George van der Riet (Facebook)

George van der Riet (Facebook)

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Johannesburg - "Stop butchering his reputation." 

These are the words of a man who says he is a former prison mate of George van der Riet, the tainted business partner of Sandile Shezi, who claims to be one of SA's youngest millionaires.

News24 recently revealed that Van der Riet is a convicted criminal who served time in a UK jail for manslaughter.

But another man, who says he is an ex-convict and served time with Van der Riet, told News24 Van der Riet is a good man.

The man, who did not want to be named, said he met Van der Riet in a British prison in September 2012 where, as one of only three South Africans, they bonded.

'He is a reformed man'

"His reputation has been butchered even though he is a reformed man," the fellow inmate said.

"A criminal record doesn't define a man's character."

He said Van der Riet "has been made out to be this evil man who killed somebody in the UK and is now 'infecting' South Africa".

"I found him extremely helpful towards other prisoners and [he] was well liked. When I met him he was a mentor for the literacy programme called Toe by Toe, for which he received no payment unlike many of other jobs in prison," the inmate said.

"Furthermore, he always had his nose in a book about forex and said that when he was let out he was going to go the straight and narrow and make his money the right way."

Regarding the manslaughter conviction, the inmate said two drug addicts attempted to mug Van der Riet and he defended himself.

"When one of them died from a bleed on the brain three days later from a hit he took to the head, the other testified that George attacked them," the man said.

"It was a case of one man's word against another and, because George was found with drugs, he was automatically seen as the bad guy and his self-defence argument was not believed."


He said Van der Riet intervened in a "hair-trigger situation that saved another prisoner from being stabbed by a prison gang".

"He could easily have been stabbed himself. He gained nothing from this selfless act," the inmate said.

"Remember this: Nelson Mandela went to prison for 27 years and came out to be our first democratic president. A criminal record doesn't define a man's character, what he does after his prison sentence does."

Shezi shared his story as a young millionaire in the media earlier this year, but after that several industry players contacted News24 to raise their suspicions over the operations of his company, the Global Forex Institute, which does training in currency trading.

Shezi was accused of plagiarising his training course material, an accusation Shezi refuted. It also emerged that Van der Riet had a criminal record in the UK for manslaughter and drug dealing and had spent two years in prison.

Shezi, defending Van der Riet, stated: "He has gone out of his way to make up for his mistake and he completed his punishment in England."

The BBC reported in July 2011 that Van der Riet admitted to manslaughter and being in possession of drugs, with the intention of supplying them, during a case at the Old Bailey in London. He was tried under the name David van der Riet.

Read more on:    sandile shezi  |  crime

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