Convicted Port Elizabeth conman Danie Gerber was sentenced to an effective 10 years in prison yesterday and warned of the possibility that he could be declared a habitual criminal in the event of any further convictions.
This came after Gerber, 49, who owned Danie Gerber Motors in Cape Road, pleaded guilty to seven counts of fraud and two counts of theft in the Port Elizabeth Commercial Crimes Court yesterday.
He was sentenced to a total of 15 years in prison, five of which were suspended.
In 2013, Gerber narrowly missed receiving a custodial sentence after he was convicted of fraud. The Port Elizabeth Regional Court sentenced him to 12 hours’ community service a month after finding him guilty of fraud for the issuing of roadworthy certificates.
Gerber was again arrested early last week on charges of fraud again, after conning clients into believing he had ownership of vehicles he was selling when they, in fact, still belonged to WesBank.
In his plea statement yesterday, Gerber admitted that he had acted with the intention to defraud the clients and pretended that he was authorised to sell the five vehicles, with a combined value of R285 000.
“At all material times I knew that my actions were wrongful and unlawful and constituted an offence.”
Gerber also pleaded guilty to stealing a Mercedes-Benz Vito bus, a Colt L200 bakkie and a Suzuki Jimny 4×4 vehicle between 2011 and 2014.
He said he pretended to have paid the owner of the Suzuki R155 000 for the vehicle, motivating him to withdraw the theft charge laid against him.
Gerber also pleaded guilty to pretending to be the owner of one of the other stolen vehicles and for being in possession of 20 cut diamonds, nine of which he provided as security for a loan.
“I did not have nine genuine diamonds, but only nine cubic zirconias, which I was able to provide as security for a loan to me and I was not willing and not in a position to repay the said loan within 30 days.”
Magistrate Louis Claasen said: “The accused is formally warned that in the possibility that he commits any future offences he could be declared an habitual criminal.” He also warned Gerber to pay back the money he had defrauded his clients of, namely:
- R1 000 to Jean Pierre van Deventer;
- R37 200 to Leslie Hudson;
- R59 500 to Driesden Pretorius;
- R65 000 to Russel Rowan;
- R255 000 to Robert Grindley-Ferris;
- R180 000 to the Paul Joubert Family Trust; and
- R458 000 to Paul Joubert. Van Deventer, 21, of Fairview, who attended court proceedings yesterday, said although he was only defrauded out of R1 000, he would use the experience as a lesson and only buy a vehicle from a reputable dealer in future.
He said he had paid Gerber the money to secure a Mazda 323 he intended to buy.
– Lee-Anne Butler