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'Conman' held over franchises

By unknown | Sep 25, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Thuli Zungu

Thuli Zungu

Stelio Nathaniel, the chief executive of Prop Holdings, was arrested last week Tuesday for allegedly defrauding unsuspecting franchisees of thousands of rands.

Nathaniel was charged with six counts of fraud on Wednesday and released on R20000 bail pending trial in the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court in Pretoria.

His next appearance will be on October 22.

His arrest followed a recent article published in Sowetan's Consumer Line about the misery experienced by Phumzile Amos, who allegedly paid R50000 to Nathaniel for a franchise agreement she intended buying from him.

Amos, of Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, later cancelled her contract and demanded a refund, which Nathaniel failed to pay.

Prop Holdings offers a franchise agreement to prospective franchisees who want to buy old houses, renovate them and later sell them at exorbitant prices.

Since we exposed his alleged unfair business practice, 11 more prospective entrepreneurs have come forward saying they were also hoodwinked into investing in the scam.

They all claimed the concept sounded good.

The concept promises the franchisee the right area in which to buy and a seller-led generation system, finance in buying and selling property. But, says the investors, after paying over their respective R200000 contract fees, nothing happens.

The one-sided contract gives Nathaniel better rights than the franchisees.

"If you managed to sell a house all proceeds go into Nathaniel's bank account who will then keep the money for his own good," said Trudy Matlala who paid R195000 last July.

She renovated a house on her own, sold it and all the proceeds went into Nathaniel's account.

Matlala has been waiting since July to get her equitable share. She also claimed she had been paying royalties of R3500 every month since she bought her franchise in July.

Kelebogile and her partner Kabasia Mokoto took a second bond to buy the franchise and now regret the move.

Mona-Claire Marumo quit her job, cashed-in her pension fund to invest in this scheme, which has now cost her.

A spokesman for the commercial crime unit has urged consumers who believe Nathaniel has defrauded them to lay a charge at a nearest commercial crimes unit.


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