A former owner of a multimillion-rand lodge in Mpumalanga is disappointed with the conviction of the establishment’s new owner on fraud charges.
He feels that the new owner’s wife should have also been found guilty.
Willem Janson sold 67.7% of eBundu Lodge, situated between Mbombela and White River, Mpumalanga, to Sibusiso Tshabalala and his wife Ntombizodwa, for R32 million in 2016, but since then business relations have soured.
Janson raised allegations of fraud, while the couple complained that the former owner was waging a racist and malicious war against the new owners in an attempt to kick them out of the business.
Janson laid four fraud and money-laundering charges with the Hawks against the couple and their company, Chuma Investments, in 2020.
The Nelspruit Commercial Crimes Court has found Tshabalala guilty on three counts of fraud amounting to R150 000.
Mpumalanga National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Monica Nyuswa said that, in August 2016, Tshabalala submitted four invoices to eBundu Lodge purporting to have been issued by Isizwe Chartered Accountants, which was auditing the financial records of eBundu Lodge at that time. The banking details of Isizwe were changed to those of Chuma Investments and eBundu Lodge paid these invoices believing they were payments for the accounting firm.
Maqhinga Zulu, an accountant at the firm, discovered in 2018 that invoices had been issued under the name of his accounting firm but paid to a third party. He contacted Janson, who reported the matter to the police, leading to the couple’s arrest.
“The state advocate, Henry Nxumalo, led evidence of five witnesses, including a chartered accountant and the owner of Isizwe Chartered Accountants, whose business letterheads were used to defraud Willem Janson, the then owner of eBundu Lodge.
“The court found that the state proved beyond reasonable doubt that Tshabalala created and submitted these invoices in order to defraud Willem Janson/eBundu Lodge and that both eBundu Lodge and Isizwe Chartered Accountants suffered prejudice as a result of Sibusiso Tshabala’s actions,” she said.
Tshabalala will be sentenced on November 5.
Janson told City Press on Monday that he was not satisfied with Sibusiso Tshabalala’s conviction and believed that Ntombizodwa should have also been found guilty.
“They’re big crooks who came to the lowveld to destroy a business, that had been thriving for 30 years, in just a couple of months. I’m not leaving this matter here,” he said.
Janson tried in December 2017 to cancel the sale agreement with the Tshabalalas but failed. He had claimed that they failed to meet two suspensive conditions in the sale agreement – that the Industrial Development Corporation agreed to grant a loan of R32 million for the purchase and that shareholding in the company was established as agreed.
The Tshabalalas went to the Mpumalanga High Court to force Janson to fulfill his obligation and sell to them, and Judge Henk Roelofse found in their favour. Janson’s application for leave to appeal was dismissed with cost on April 11 2018.