Six accused of Covid-19 UIF fraud get R5,000 bail
The six people accused of stealing R5.7m in an Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) fraud and money-laundering scam over Covid-19 relief payments were granted R5,000 bail each on Monday.
Tshepang Howard Phohole, Taetso Zulu, Tsietsi Godfrey Mojela, Itumeleng Charlene Masoko, Tebogo Andries Nchimane Masoko and Dilsfinest Cafe Pty Ltd (represented by Tebogo Andries Nchimane Masoko) made their first appearance in the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court in Tshwane on charges of fraud, theft and money laundering after their arrests at the weekend.
Lumka Mahanjana, North Gauteng regional spokesperson for the director of public prosecutions, said the state did not oppose bail on the basis of their co-operation when they were arrested. All addresses were verified and all five vehicles bought by proceeds of crime were recovered upon their arrest.
Two weeks ago, the graft-busting Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) secured a preservation order in the Pretoria high court to freeze R3.2m in cash in 28 bank accounts.
However, R2.4m still remains unaccounted for.
Hawks investigators and operatives from the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) had followed the money from the UIF into the bank account of a factory worker.
His bank account details had been inexplicably swapped with those of his employer, and the misstep saw Covid-19 relief funds meant for 1,400 workers paid into his account.
The court ordered them not to dispose of building material that was bought using such proceeds, until the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks) recovers it from their premises.
The Sunday Times and TimesLIVE reported that the family had splurged on cars, tombstones and catering equipment.
Hawks spokesperson Col Katlego Mogale said that three men and two women — aged between 25 and 68 — were taken into custody in the predawn raid.
“This is following an intensive investigation into a case registered at Brooklyn police relating to the Unemployment Insurance Fund Covid-19 relief. The suspects were traced to various residences in Soshanguve, Atteridgeville and Mamelodi,” she said.
“Five vehicles, including a Range Rover Evoque, were recovered, as well as other items suspected to have been bought with the monies which weren't meant for the suspects,” she added.
The matter was postponed until September 7.