Bay diamond dealer tried to buy his release

Kathryn Kimberley

IF the Port Elizabeth diamond dealer who allegedly defrauded investors out of millions of rands is given bail “he will walk out of here and never come back”, the state submitted yesterday.

Giel Mans, 35, was so determined to be released from custody he had even offered the prosecutor a bribe of R100000, the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court heard.

Mans does not deny this.

He has been in custody since Christmas Eve last year, when he was arrested while braaiing with friends at Hartebeespoort Dam in North West.

He had allegedly faked his own kidnapping to get out of reimbursing irate investors about R10-million.

The complainants had spent millions investing in his diamond business, which the state now alleges was a Ponzi scheme.

An anonymous text message was sent to his wife in Port Elizabeth on December 16, allegedly by Mans, claiming he was in danger and would be injured if R5-million in ransom was not paid.

Mans now claims he was merely playing a joke on his wife and that the matter got out of hand.

He also told the court there were diamonds worth millions sitting in a safety deposit box in London and should the state grant him bail, he would fetch them. He said the investors would then be paid out.

Yesterday, investigating officer Gert van Staaden said more and more people were coming forward with claims that Mans owed them money.

“When the story appeared in the newspaper, more people came forward claiming that they, too, had invested in the diamond business,” he said, adding that the amount reflected on the charge sheet was increasing rapidly.

He said an investigation found that Mans had given the complainants false financial statements to make them believe their investments were growing.

He also alleged that Mans never even bought diamonds with the investments and merely drew up false receipts from various diamond suppliers.

Meanwhile, defence Advocate Brent Harker maintained that Mans was not a flight risk and that the state had no substantial evidence against him.

He said Mans was being targeted because he was a white, Afrikaans male from an upmarket suburb in the Bay.

Prosecutor Advocate Wilhelm de Villiers argued that Mans was a compulsive liar and should he be given bail he would abscond. He said until now Mans had also failed to cooperate with police.

He also said Mans had wasted taxpayers’ money from the very beginning when he faked his own kidnapping, and then sent police on a wild goose chase with false information pertaining to the whereabouts of “these so-called diamonds”.

“I can safely say there is no security box. He must have [imagined it],” De Villiers said.

Addressing Mans, he said: “Tell us. If we can find the diamonds then the state would have to reconsider whether you committed fraud.”

De Villiers said customs did not know about the diamonds because they were a lie.

“It is ludicrous to think he is just given a rubber stamp to take through R16-million worth of diamonds in his backpack. They [customs] have never even heard of him.”

De Villiers described Mans as “a rolling stone who gathers no moss”.

“On his own testimony, he called me to offer me a bribe of R100000. This alone is argument enough to keep him in custody,” he said.

Magistrate Abigail Beaton will give her ruling on Tuesday.

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