KZN Law Society resurrects bid to have attorney who allegedly faked his death struck from the roll

2018-04-09 15:00
High Court. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

High Court. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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The KwaZulu-Natal Law Society is going after attorney Jan Adriaan Venter, who allegedly faked his own death while under investigation for misappropriation of trust fund money, said to be almost R10m.

Following reports of his "death" which resulted in a well-attended funeral in his home town of Vryheid, the law society put on ice its application before the High Court in Pietermaritzburg to have him struck from the roll.

But last week, the society applied for a new court date in May and has produced proof that he is alive and well.

This was confirmed by the society's president, Asif Essa, who told News24 that the society needed to get confirmation of this from people who had seen him in the flesh.

"We will now proceed with the strike off order," he said.

Read: Fraud probe against Vryheid attorney who allegedly faked own death

Venter disappeared, and was then reported to have died, a week after the society brought the court application in July last year.

'Robbing Peter to pay Paul'

He was last seen in public outside the High Court when the society secured an interim order against him, stopping him from practicing and freezing his bank accounts.

According to affidavits filed in the matter, an investigation into his affairs was sparked by a complaint by property seller Matthys Beyers, who said he had never been paid the R3m he was owed from a deal.

The probe revealed that Venter had been admitted as an attorney in 2015 and had opened his practice in Vryheid shortly afterwards.

By mid-2016 he had already started "robbing Peter to pay Paul" and he was also making personal transfers out of his trust account.

A second investigation was done. The investigators' report found "evidence of gross misconduct" and warned that he was a flight risk because his sister had recently emigrated to Australia and his family had begun investing funds there from the sale of farms in South Africa.

The already "substantial shortfall" of R4.5m rose to R6.5m and then R9.2m.

R25m life insurance policy

The second report states: "This inspection seems to reveal more damning evidence of gross misconduct with every new document received.

"It was an exceptionally cold day, but Venter was perspiring profusely," the investigators reported.

A resident of Vryheid who attended Venter's funeral, told News24 they were first told that Venter had been hijacked and decapitated in KwaMashu.

"But then we heard he was struck from the roll (of attorneys), that after hearing he wasn't feeling well and he had taken an Uber to go to hospital where he had a heart attack."

Also read: Alleged fake death: KZN lawyer 'betrayed the community'

Late last year – five months later – he and his fiancée Rozanne Vosloo were arrested at their Durban beachfront apartment for attempting to defraud Liberty Life out of R25m by putting in a life insurance claim. It was alleged they were about to leave South Africa.

They were taken to court, but freed without appearing because of issues with the docket.

Word in Vryheid is that he is living on his father's farm on the outskirts of the town and that Vosloo has moved elsewhere.

Ongoing investigation

In the most recent affidavit filed with the court, the KwaZulu-Natal Law Society's acting director Nadira Harripersad said their case had stalled because of Venter's "death".

In an affidavit, Belinda Uys, who works for a local law firm, said she knew Venter personally.

"I saw him on December 16 at a supermarket. I saw him purchase the Vryheid Herald which, coincidentally, had a picture of him on the front page relating to an article about his alleged fraud," she said.

Vryheid resident Daniel Bredenhann said he had seen Venter twice, once in a vehicle driven by a Liberty Life insurance broker and again in February this year when he was driving away from his parents' house.

The matter will come before court in May.

Directorate of Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) KwaZulu-Natal spokesperson Captain Simphiwe Mhlongo confirmed that a case of fraud was being investigated.

"The suspect is not yet arrested pending finalisation of the investigation," he said.

A Liberty Life spokesperson said the company was waiting for the outcome of the police investigation.

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