Seven defendants appeared in Palm Ridge Regional Court in Johannesburg on Thursday in connection with, among other things, the large-scale fraud that occurred at VBS Mutual Bank.
Tshifhiwa Matodzi, former chairman of VBS; Andile Ramavhunga, CEO Phophi Mukhodobwane, treasurer; Paul Magula and Ernest Nesane, both representatives of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) at the time on VBS’s board; lt.genl. Phalaphala Avhashoni Ramikosi, former CFO and non-executive director of VBS; and Nhlanhla (Sipho) Malaba, dismissed auditor partner of KPMG, stood in the dock.
The eighth accused in the case, the bank’s CFO Philip Truter, was unable to attend court proceedings after being tested positive for Covid-19.
The eight are charged with, among other things, fraud, corruption and money laundering. Their arrest followed just over two years after VBS was placed in curate.
The Hawks’ investigation indicates that the eight allegedly directly or indirectly benefited from the fraud worth R120m.
VBS is a mutual bank that mostly does business in Limpopo. Nearly R2.3 billion “disappeared” at VBS and thousands of elderly and poor people in particular Limpopo lost their savings when the bank was liquidated.
Prosecutor Hein van der Merwe says the state will not oppose bail for the eight. All the suspects are currently in police custody. Van der Merwe said it would be a schedule five bail application.
Matodzi’s lawyer told the court his client would plead guilty to the charges against him for the bail application. Matodzi says in his affidavit that he is qualified and currently unemployed. Diabetes was recently diagnosed with him and he is at greater risk of contracting Covid-19 should he be in detention longer.
Ramavhunga said through his legal representative he would also deny guilt. He said in his affidavit that he was also quizzed, but that he was earning R30 000 a month from investments and as a board member of a number of companies.
* The court was adjourned Thursday morning. Magistrate Brian Nemavhidi said he would not proceed with the case until a healthy distance between the people in court could not be maintained. Many people were asked to leave the court.