Wanted SA man fights extradition
South African authorities are pushing for the extradition of a Zimbabwean man who is wanted for allegedly stealing close to R11-million from the Dainfern Golf Estate and Country Club homeowners’ association in Gauteng.
Reginald Bernstein‚ 61‚ an accountant by profession‚ was general manager for the estate when he allegedly stole R10‚830‚283.91 before skipping the country back to Zimbabwe.
He allegedly committed the crimes in connivance with his wife‚ where the duo misrepresented that they owned a security company after forging a company registration number and bank details.
The non-existent company was then paid varying amounts of money between 2009 and 2015.
Bernstein skipped bail last year and fled to Zimbabwe‚ where he was holed up until his arrest in March this year with the help of Interpol.
He‚ however‚ successfully fought extradition in court in May‚ with Victoria Falls magistrate Rangarirai Gakanje ruling against him being taken to face trial in South Africa.
The Zimbabwe prosecution re-opened the extradition bid with a new application on Monday.
Director for economic crimes in the National Prosecution Authority‚ Chris Mutangadura‚ made the application. He alleged Bernstein had skipped bail in South Africa taking advantage of dual citizenship.
“We are making a second application for extradition for the accused to go and face trial for two counts premised on theft where he transferred company money to his wife’s account and also transferring to a trust account where he and his wife are trustees.
“Bernstein is a South African citizen but also Zimbabwean. I am not sure if he is not a citizen of Israel as well because he is of Israel descent. He appeared in court with his wife and was granted bail with one of the conditions being to surrender his passport which is with South African Police Service.
“He then applied for a Zimbabwean passport on July 9‚ 2017‚ a few days before trial in South Africa and left his wife in the case‚ yet the wife is not a principal offender hence she couldn’t be tried. She was released on summons and this is why South Africa authorities are requesting for extradition and a warrant was issued by a competent court‚” said Mutangadura in a lengthy application.
He said there were two levels on which a wanted person can be extradited: when two countries have an extradition treaty‚ and when a foreign country is designated by an order published in a Statutory Instrument by a responsible Ministry.
In this case he said South Africa is empowered through SI 133/1998‚ hence it can request extradition of anyone.
The prosecutor said the case that Bernstein faces is prosecutable‚ hence he should be extradited to face trial.
Bernstein’s lawyer Givemore Mvhiringi said he needed time to prepare a response to the application and the magistrate rolled over the case to Friday next week.
Allegations are that between April 7‚ 2009‚ and November 27‚ 2015‚ at Danger Golf Estate in Gauteng‚ Bernstein took cash amounting to R4‚214‚177.52 which belonged to the Dainfern homeowners’ association.
He also allegedly misrepresented that he was authorised to cause payment to be effected to First National Bank of South Africa for maintenance work and defrauded the company of R6‚616‚172.39.
This he did allegedly in connivance with his wife after misrepresenting through fake invoices‚ the court heard.