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Hawks arrest municipal manager in VBS case

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Hawks arrest municipal manager in VBS case

25th June 2020

By: African News Agency

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A treasury manager at the Merafong municipality appeared in a Pretoria court on Thursday on charges relating to the VBS Mutual Bank scandal, the Hawks said.

Mattheys Gerhardus Wienekus, 64, was arrested on Thursday morning after investigations showed that more than R50-million in funding from the municipality was invested with VBS while he served as the acting chief financial officer of the local authority, the elite investigating unit said.

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He faces charges of contravention of the Municipality Finance Management Act 56 of 2003 in the ongoing investigation linked to the VBS Mutual Bank.

The municipality in Merafong, on the West Rand, is one of 20 under investigation for investing millions of rands with VBS in contravention of the finance management act. Last year, auditor-general Kimi Makwetu warned that in the case of 14 of the municipalities, the chances were slim that any funds could be recovered.

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The head of the Hawks, general Godfrey Lebeya, said the investigations into the municipalities were at an advanced stage.

"This is the beginning and all the other cases are receiving the necessary attention," he said.

The VBS scandal was laid bare in a report by advocate Terry Motau in 2018.

Last week saw the first arrests linked to the looting of the bank to the tune of R2.7-billion, which led to its collapse.

The Hawks nabbed seven suspects, including former executives at the bank and a former senior police officer, after raids on properties in Gauteng and Limpopo provinces.

The suspects face 47 charges, including several of racketeering, theft, seven charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering. 

The case against Wienekus has been postponed until July 29 for further investigation.

It is alleged that politicians in the African National Congress and Economic Freedom Fighters benefited from the looting of the bank, described by Motau in his explosive report as "The Great Bank Heist".

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