Bank almost swindled of R500m by fake Royal Bafokeng Trust signatories

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  • Three people were found guilty of trying to transfer R500 million from the Royal Bafokeng Trust Fund into another account.
  • They pretended to be signatories for the trust - but a bank worker became suspicious and raised the alarm. 
  • Their bail privileges were withdrawn, pending their sentencing. 

Three people were found guilty of trying to transfer R500 million from the Royal Bafokeng Trust Fund by pretending to be signatories to the account.

The objective was to defraud Absa Bank of more than R500 million.

Hawks spokesperson Captain Matimba Maluleke said Goci Nwabisa, 31, Tshepo Daniel Sehlapelo, 29, and Lifty Nkabe Makalela, 43, were convicted by the Mokopane Regional Court on Thursday. 

The trust forms part of the powerful Royal Bafokeng Holdings, described on its website as an African community investment company.

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The trust is meant to preserve and create inter-generational wealth for the Royal Bafokeng nation.

Land

It was formed after the nation pooled resources to buy back their land during the colonial era, and it was subsequently found to be platinum rich.

The holding company says it manages a diversified portfolio of around R30 billion. 

The three were found guilty of fraud and contravening Section 18(1) of the Identification Act. 

Nwabisa, Sehlapelo and Aaron Madanda, 42, approached the bank consultant in Burgersfort, purporting to be the signatories of the trust. 

They had planned to open a separate bank account, using fraudulent identity documents, to transfer funds from the trust into a new account.

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"Suspecting that something was amiss, the bank consultant reported the matter to the authorities and Nwabisa, Sehlapelo and Madanda were arrested on the spot," said Maluleke. 

Makalela was later identified as the "mastermind" and was arrested at his home in Alexandra, Johannesburg. 

Madanda is currently serving a jail term for another similar, but unrelated, fraud, which he committed.

His trial on the same matter will start on 18 August.

The three will remain in police custody until 20 August for another bail extension application. 

Their sentencing proceedings will be heard on 28 August.

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