State seizes vehicle of suspected gold smuggler

Car keys Picture: free stock image/pixabay
Car keys Picture: free stock image/pixabay

The fact that Albert Sithole‚ a disabled and unemployed social grant recipient‚ owned a car seemed suspicious to a Barberton policeman.

After some digging‚ the VW Scirocco was eventually seized by the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU).

The car had belonged to Timothy Moyane‚ who had been under the police’s radar for a few years‚ but ownership was transferred to Sithole soon after Moyane had bought it.

It started with an eNaTIS traffic department search by a sergeant in November 2010‚ two years after authorities had first raided Moyane’s house and found items linked to illicit gold dealing.

The eNaTIS search revealed that the VW was first registered under Moyane’s name in March 2010‚ but three months later it was registered under Sithole’s.

South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) records showed that Sithole was handicapped and unemployed and received a monthly disability grant.

Police later visited Moyane’s house in June 2011 after information was received that Moyane was dealing in drugs.

During the search of his premises‚ the Scirocco was found.

Moyane’s wife told the police that the vehicle belonged to her husband and that she knew Sithole‚ who apparently had a share in the car.

In September that year‚ the National Prosecuting Authority’s AFU applied to preserve the car — the first step before property is forfeited to the state.

Moyane opposed the forfeiture application.

The Prevention of Organised Crime Act permits the court to grant the forfeiture of assets to the state if it finds‚ on a balance of probabilities‚ that the property in question was acquired through the proceeds of unlawful activities.

The dealership where the car was bought said seven payments totalling R518 000 were made into the car dealership’s account between February and March 2010‚ one directly from Moyane’s account.

Moyane argued that he had paid for the car with money he had lawfully earned.

Moyane claimed the amounts were from various sources‚ including subcontracting work and the rental of a truck.

Moyane also claimed Sithole had contributed towards the purchase of the vehicle.

However‚ the High Court in Pretoria disagreed.

It said Moyane had not shown that the amounts paid were lawfully acquired.

Judge Ntendeya Mavundla last week said there were no supporting documents showing that Moyane was entitled to the money.

“The inference to be drawn is that these amounts are either proceeds of unlawful activity or derived from money laundering‚” Mavundla said.

Mavundla said Sithole was handicapped and did not have a driver’s licence.

“The inference is that the registration in his name was nothing but an attempt to disguise and distance the vehicle from (Moyane).”

The AFU has attached property to the value of over R2bn since 2011.