Absa IT heist: Sangoma and two women who allegedly got part of the loot appear in court

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Charles O'Rear, Getty Images
  • Three people, including a sangoma, were granted bail on Wednesday in the matter involving R130 million stolen from Absa.
  • The three allegedly benefited financially from the millions stolen.
  • One of the women is believed to be the mastermind's ex-girlfriend and mother of his child.

A sangoma and two women allegedly linked to the R130-million Absa Bank heist were granted bail in the Johannesburg Specialised Commercial Crimes Court sitting in Palm Ridge on Wednesday.

Elvis Khumbulani Ntombela, 44, Nonelwa Nondlazi, 29, and Penelope Thandiwe Mphahlele, 23, brought a formal bail application before Magistrate Phillip Venter.

Allegations are that the alleged mastermind in the case, Xolelwa Masebeni, transferred R103 million from the bank into six different bank accounts between September and December 2021. He was an IT specialist for the bank at the time.

Masebeni, who died in a hail of bullets outside his Eastern Cape home in February while out on bail, allegedly transferred R7 million to Mphahlele, R1 million to Ntombela, and R350 000 to Nondlazi.

Nondlazi has a child with Masebeni.

Two other accused in the case are Masebeni's wife Athembile Mpani, and Gershom Matomane.

It is alleged that Matomane, believed to be in a relationship with Mphahlele, received R59 million of the funds.

Maduna Gebevu Trading Services, a company Matomane registered in October 2021, received R15 million.

Ntombela, who said in court he was a sangoma, and Mphahlele were each granted R10 000 bail, while Nondlazi's bail was set at R5 000.

The three were released under strict conditions. 

Venter ordered Ntombela to report at the Melmoth police station in KwaZulu-Natal every Monday and Friday between 08:00 and 16:00.

Mphahlele was ordered to report at the Langa police station in the Western Cape every Monday and Friday between 08:00 and 16:00, while Nondlazi was ordered to report at the Vanderbijlpark police station in the Vaal every Monday and Friday between 08:00 and 21:00.

They were ordered to remain at their homes between 22:00 and 04:00.

Ntombela was ordered to continue residing in his Eduabeni village in Melmoth, Mphahlele at her home in Langa, and Nondlazi in Bophelong in the Vaal.

"If the police knock at your door and not find you, you will be in contravention of your bail application. You must not destroy or hide any of the assets mentioned in your bail.

"You must not interfere with the Asset Forfeiture Unit, the Hawks or Absa investigators if they want to freeze or attach properties," said Venter.

Ntombela, who claimed that he had lost his passport, was ordered to immediately surrender it to the investigating officer should he recover it. He was also warned to not apply for a new passport.

Nondlazi, who is a food safety officer, told the court that her job entailed travelling in and out the country. However, Venter ordered her to surrender her passport and warned her not to apply for a new one.

"You must provide the investigating officer with your work schedule in advance. If your job requires you to sleep away from your home, you must inform the investigating officer in advance. You must not travel outside the borders of RSA.

"You must not have any contact direct or indirect with any Absa employee for whatsoever reason," said Venter.

READ | Third suspect in R103m Absa theft arrested while in court for allegedly stealing R3.4m from Capitec

Ntombela declared in court that he was in a polygamous marriage with two wives and had five children. He said he owned a Jeep Cherokee, an Audi A3, Renault Triber and a Mercedes ML Class.

He claimed that he was also the owner of Mabalabala, a company that specialises in hosting soccer tournaments and maskandi music festivals.

He said he employed 10 people and was earning R80 000 per month.

Meanwhile, Mphahlele claimed she owned a company that looked after her close relatives and family members in Cape Town.

Nondlazi, on the other hand, declared that she owned a black Toyota Yaris.

Ntombela, Matomane, Mphahlele, Nondlazi and Mpani are expected back in court on 30 June.



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