South Africa News

EC attorney sentenced for theft of trust funds

An Eastern Cape attorney has been sentenced in the Mthatha Serious Commercial Specialised Crime Court on charges of theft of trust funds.

Sonwabo Archibald Hermanus, 55, was sentenced to two years imprisonment, wholly suspended for five years, provided he does not commit the same offence during the suspension period.

He was also ordered by the court to pay back R1.425 million to the Fidelity Fund, over a period of five years.

According to the Eastern Cape spokesperson for the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) Captain Yolisa Mgolodela, Hermanis claimed R1.425 million from the Road Accident Fund, on behalf of various clients, in 2013.

She said the money was deposited into Hermanus’ trust account and he failed to pay his clients the full amounts that were due to them.

Mgolodela said it was the claimants who lodged a complaint against Hermanus, with the Serious Commercial Crime Investigation team, based in Mthatha, in June 2017.

Hermanus was arrested by the Hawks on May 11, 2018.

“Hermanus made a short appearance at Mthatha Magi­strate’s Court, where he was released on warning the very same day (of his arrest). After a series of court appearances, Hermanus was ultimately sentenced,” said Mgolodela.

In a separate incident, a former manager of a courier service was ordered by the East London Magistrate’s Court to pay back the money he stole.

Grant Moore, 46, worked at JKJ Couriers and Pest Control Specialists, and was sentenced to three years imprisonment, wholly suspended for five years, on condition he is not convicted of the same offence during the suspension period.

Moore was ordered to pay back the R74 777 he stole from the company.

“During the period, be­tween 2010 and 2015, Moore, as manager of JKJ Couriers and Pest Control Specia­lists, was solely res­ponsible for fin­al receipting and banking of all funds for the company.

“He also was responsible for the general ru­nning of the bu­siness which had mon­thly contracts with other services including cleaning or replacing of materi­als at the premises.

“Moore​ had various cash payments for go­ods sold and services rendered, and had failed to deposit the cash received into the business account.

“Moore would either receive the cash pers­onally or from his staff members that rendered the services on behalf of the bus­iness, but never depo­sited the money to the bank and instead used it ​ for self-g­ain,” Mgolodela said.

She said the company owners started noticing a decline in their revenue and other discrepancies in August 2015, and lodged a complaint with the East London Serious Commercial Crime Investigation team.


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