Hawks arrest woman accused of defrauding 350 people in fake entrepreneurship programme

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  • A 25-year-old alleged fraudster has been arrested after she failed to appear in court.
  • She and her boyfriend allegedly conned 350 people out of administration fees which they paid to join an entrepreneurship programme.
  • It is alleged that the victims were promised a R3 000 monthly stipend.

A suspected fraudster who allegedly conned 350 people into paying for a fake entrepreneurship programme, has been rearrested after she failed to appear in court.

Palesa Maje, 25, was released on bail after her initial arrest but she failed to attend one of her appearances.

On Sunday, members of the Hawks' Serious Corruption Investigation team in Mpumalanga rearrested her at the Honeydew informal settlement in Gauteng, Hawks spokesperson Captain Dineo Lucy Sekgotodi said.

She appeared in the Mbombela Commercial Crimes Court on Monday.

READ | Former Fort Hare professor appears in court after a month on the run from police

In 2017, Maje and her boyfriend, Bongani Sibuyi, allegedly started an entrepreneurship programme in Bushbuckridge and invited unemployed youth to participate.

"The interested youth applied and they were interviewed and more than 350 qualifying learners were told to pay an administration fee of R250 each to the bank account of the unregistered company belonging to the two accused. The learners were promised that they would receive a R3 000 monthly stipend," Sekgotodi alleged.

However, the payments never materialised and the two "disappeared", she added.

"The victims tried all means to locate the suspects with no success. The matter was reported to the Hawks and [an] investigation ensued, which led to the arrest of the two accused and [they] were later released on bail," Sekgotodi said.

Maje and her co-accused boyfriend are expected to appear in court again on Friday.

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