The fraud and corruption case against former VBS board chairman Tshifhiwa Matodzi the alleged mastermind of the R2 billion looting of VBS Mutual Bank was briefly heard at the Palm Ridge Commercial Crimes Court on Thursday.
Matodzi appeared alongside former VBS CEO Andile Ramavhunga, former treasurer Phophi Mukhobdobwane, KPMG auditor Sipho Malaba, Lieutenant-General Avhashoni Ramikosi, a non-executive director, and Ernest Nesane and Paul Magula, who both represented the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) on the VBS board as non-executive directors.
The seven were not asked to plead.
Their brief appearance follows the State’s request for a postponement to January 21, 2021, to allow the prosecution to add more charges against them.
When the accused made their first appearance on June 18, they were each charged with 47 counts ranging from fraud, corruption, and tax evasion to money laundering.
State prosecutor Hein van der Merwe, addressing the court, said the prosecution was looking at the possibility of more arrests before their next appearance in January.
Adding to their woes was the decision by VBS former chief financial officer Phillip Truter to turn State witness against the seven and other potential suspects.
Truter admitted on Wednesday that he was part of a group of people who were involved in the theft of VBS Mutual Bank funds – funds which were invested by pensioners and investments of several municipalities in the country.
The theft of the funds allegedly began in March 2017, when the group allegedly began to falsify financial statements of the bank.
The racketeering was uncovered in March 2018 after the South African Reserve Bank commissioned an investigative report led by advocate Terry Motau, SC. He dubbed his report “The Greatest Bank Heist”.
On Wednesday, Truter walked into the accused box and pleaded guilty to all five counts linking him to the theft of pensioners’ funds and investments of several municipalities in the country.
He was handed a 10-year jail sentence, three years of which was suspended for five years.
Truter admitted that he was paid R2 million from a VBS account which was held in the name of Vele Investments.
He told the court that Matodzi, the alleged ringleader of the theft, had control over the Vele account.