R103m Absa heist: UJ student accused of receiving R2m of stolen loot granted bail

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Xolela Masebeni and Athembile Mpani appeared in the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court where they are charged with stealing millions from Absa.
Xolela Masebeni and Athembile Mpani appeared in the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court where they are charged with stealing millions from Absa.
Lwandile Bhengu
  • A university student linked to the theft of R103 million was granted R2 000 bail.
  • Thembelihle Racaza allegedly received R2 million from the loot.
  • Racaza cooperated with the police by handing herself in after hearing she was wanted.

A University of Johannesburg student who allegedly received R2 million stolen from Absa, allegedly by the bank's former IT specialist, has been granted R2 000 bail.

Thembelihle Racaza brought her bail application in the Johannesburg Specialised Commercial Crimes Court, sitting in Palm Ridge, on Wednesday.

Racaza is in her final year of a diploma in supply chain management.

She handed herself to the police after being informed that she was wanted on theft charges.

She claimed she was a part-time therapist at My Beauty Spa in Sandton. 

Racaza pleaded with the court that she could afford only R2 000 bail.

Advocate Sharon Masedi said the State was not opposed to Racaza's release on bail and added that Racaza was accused number 19 in the matter.

“She has fully cooperated with the police. The bail application is not opposed. She handed herself in after hearing she was wanted. She could have appeared in court on Monday. However, that could not happen as we were told there would be no court sitting on Monday (due to the national shutdown).

"The police have verified her residential address. The investigating officer is in Italy attending an Interpol event. He was satisfied that Racaza was not a flight risk. The State has no reason to oppose bail. I'll leave the quantum of the bail to the hands of the court," Masedi said.

READ | Absa IT heist: Murdered specialist's girlfriend back in court to face music alone

Magistrate Phillip Venter said Racaza had cooperated by handing herself in.

"The interest of justice permits your release on bail. There is no reason for me to increase the bail amount. For the duration of the matter, you must reside at your address. You must notify the investigating officer if anything requires you to change the address.

"You may not leave Gauteng province without informing the investigating officer seven days prior. You must hand in your passport before 29 March. If not, you may not apply for any travel document until the finalisation of the matter," Venter said.

Warrant of arrest

Meanwhile, when two accused Khumbulani Elvis Ntombela and Lindani Mtshali failed to appear in court on Wednesday morning, Masedi requested a warrant of arrest be provisionally issued and their bail money be forfeited to the State. 

However, the pair arrived at court later, and the warrant of arrest was withdrawn.

"The accused reside in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal except for Nondlazi Nonelwa. She stays in Vanderbijlpark. We ask the court to order the accused to be punctual. We can't wait for them to arrive late," Masedi pleaded.

The matter grabbed headlines after former Absa IT specialist Xolela Masebeni was accused of stealing R103 million from the bank.

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

Between 22 September 2021 and 31 December 2021, Masebeni allegedly distributed some money to the other accused, who used the funds to purchase luxury clothing, vehicles and to renovate or build homes.

Authorities managed to recover only R66 million from the stolen funds.

Masebeni was out on R50 000 when he was shot dead in February 2022 outside his home in the Eastern Cape.

Besides Racaza, the accused are Masebeni's wife Athembile Mpani, her mother Nolitha Constance Mpani, his sangoma Khumbulani Elvis Ntombela and Masebeni's friend Gershom Matomane, Matomane's lover Penelope Thandiwe Mphahlele, Matomane's company Maduna Gebevu Trading Services, Masebeni's ex-lover Nonelwa Nondlazi, Matomane's friend Simphiwe Magobiyane, Sicelo Cedric Ndebele, Mduduzi Sichiwe, Sicelimpilo Simphiwe Msomi, and his father Mduduzi Sichiwe Msomi, Malusi Shepherd Mtyhalela, and his wife, Belinda Bongiwe Mtyhalela, Ayanda Windvoel, Nontobeko Benmazwi, her husband Thozamile Benmazwi and Hlomla Folman. 

The accused are all out on bail ranging from R1 000 to R50 000, and expected back in court on 28 June.

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