Former Bay spin doctor ashamed and embarrassed by his actions’
Former Nelson Mandela Bay municipal spokesman Roland Williams was so indebted to controversial tow truck company owner Raven Rungan that they hatched a fraudulent plan to damage his luxury car to claim more than R96 000 from his insurance company.
Williams – who falsely claimed and received the payout for an accident that never happened – pleaded guilty to fraud in the Port Elizabeth Specialised Commercial Crimes Court yesterday.
He said later he was ashamed and embarrassed about what he had done.
Williams, along with co-accused company Mango Moon Trading – trading as V&R Auto and represented by Renika Rungan – told the court they pleaded guilty to the charge of insurance fraud against them.
The court found that Williams along with Renika’s husband, Raven – who was fatally wounded in a shooting a year later – defrauded Santam Limited through a combined insurance claim worth more than R115 000 in 2014.
Rungan was the sole owner of V&R Auto before his death in October 2015, about two weeks after he was shot four times while on his way to work, in an alleged hit.
In his plea statement read out by his attorney Kuban Chetty, Williams admitted to his actions which he said were “wrongful, unlawful and intentional”.
Williams’s statement detailed how he and Rungan deliberately caused extensive damage to his BMW to put in a claim to defraud Santam after Williams experienced engine problems with his car.
“He [Rungan] further intimated that he could ‘make a plan’ with my vehicle by having it damaged at his premises and I could then lodge a claim with my insurers,” Williams said.
He admitted further that he owed Rungan R50 000 “as a result of various loans made”.
The two then concocted a plan to damage the BMW and lodge a claim with his insurance company, claiming that he had an accident on the Motherwell-Addo road on August 18 2014.
Williams’s insurance claim stated he had tried to swerve out for a cow in the road and had rolled the car, after which V&R Auto towed it to their premises.
The following month R96 400 was paid into Williams’s bank account and R19 404 was paid to V&R Auto for services rendered.
— HeraldLIVE (@HeraldPE) January 22, 2018
Addressing the court through his legal representative, Williams admitted the car was not damaged in an accident and was not towed to V&R Auto’s premises in Walmer.
“I was not entitled to claim from Santam Limited in respect of the damages caused to my motor vehicle nor for the salvaging costs, which include the towing, security, administration and storage, which was raised by [V&R Auto],” he said.
Asked by magistrate Lionel Lindoor if he agreed with the contents of the statement submitted in court, a forlorn-looking Williams, dressed in a black suit, replied: “Yes.”
State prosecutor Theuns Goosen submitted police records which showed Williams had two previous convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol dating back to 1993 and 1997.
Chetty said Williams would apply for a correctional supervision report to deviate from the minimum sentence after Lindoor found the pair guilty as charged.
Goosen said it was fair for the court to consider the correctional supervision report for Williams.
Speaking through Chetty later, Williams said he was “extremely remorseful, deeply ashamed and embarrassed” about what he had done.
“Irrespective of how I may have been influenced, I have done a very bad thing.
“I feel for my wife, children, family and all who have been in any way affected by my wrongful actions.”
Also in court yesterday, Rungan’s widow and sole member of his close corporation, Renika, said through her legal representative, advocate Richard Crompton, that the company pleaded guilty to the charge of fraud but that she had no personal knowledge of the matter.
A resolution handed to court on behalf of Renika and the close corporation she represented said she was entitled to plead guilty on behalf of the company.
Renika, on behalf of V&R Auto, received a fine of R120 000, wholly suspended for five years.
Part of the conditions of the sentence are that V&R Auto has until February 9 to pay back the R19 404 to Santam and that the company not be convicted of fraud during the suspended sentence period.
Williams will be sentenced on March 5.