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VBS fraud case: Matter postponed for State to finalise additional accused, charges

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VBS fraud case: Matter postponed for State to finalise additional accused, charges

26th January 2021

By: News24Wire

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The remaining seven accused in the VBS Mutual Bank fraud case appeared in the Commercial Crimes Court sitting in Palm Ridge, Gauteng, on Tuesday and the matter was postponed to March.

The postponement was granted to allow for the State to add additional accused and charges "emanating from new information available to the State".

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This comes after prosecutor Hein van der Merwe brought an application for a remand citing that "the panel that will consider the application for the further accused to be added will be sitting within the next two weeks".

Van der Merwe added that the State will need four weeks to finalise everything.

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There were no objections from the legal representatives of the majority of the accused.

They were former VBS chairperson Tshifhiwa Matodzi, former VBS CEO Andile Ramavhunga, former VBS treasurer Phophi Mukhodobwane, former non-executive VBS board members Ernest Nesane and Paul Magula, as well as former KPMG engagement partner Sipho Malaba.

The legal representative of former KPMG engagement partner Avhashoni Ramikosi objected to the application by the State, adding that the State was not telling the court anything new other than that it needed certification to add additional accused.

"Is there anything new we are hearing today that the State did not say on 8 October [the accused's last appearance] other than that the committee must issue a certificate to add more accused? I am saying that there is nothing new. I'm submitting and standing my ground that the application should fail," lawyer Rudzani Netshiava argued.

Magistrate Phillip Venter granted the remand after hearing submissions from the State and the defence, citing that the request by the State was reasonable.

"It is not an unreasonable request from the State, it appears to be the only hurdle to join the rest of the accused on the case. The time limit is not unreasonable. Fairness and the interests of justice dictate that the State be granted this remand," Venter ruled.

The matter was subsequently postponed to 26 March and bail was extended for all seven accused under the same conditions.

The eighth accused in the matter – former VBS CFO Phillip Truter – has already entered into a plea agreement with the State and will serve seven years in prison after he was sentence to 10 years in prison, with three years suspended for five.

His co-accused have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Truter – who is the State's "ace witness" – pleaded guilty to several charges, including money laundering, corruption and the contravention of tax laws, News24 previously reported.

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