‘Memory loss’ may save fraud accused

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A Port Elizabeth man who claims he lost his memory in a car crash – including any recollection of allegedly defrauding his employer – could escape having to stand trial.
Erwin Claasen, who was a manager at a loan shop at the time, is being assessed by professionals to determine whether he is able to adequately follow court proceedings.
The case against Claasen and his co-accused, Luleka Tyala and Etheline Manangana, was postponed to April 4, pending the finalisation of a medico-legal report.
Fastcash Trust, trading as KND Finance, had a Port Elizabeth branch which consisted of three separate offices – namely KND, Save a Lot and Laduma.
Claasen, who hobbled into the dock in the Port Elizabeth Commercial Crimes Court on Monday, was manager of the Save a Lot office at the time of the alleged fraudulent activity.
Tyala and Manangana were loan consultants responsible for the processing of clients’ loan applications, the processing of payments, and all aspects of clients’ loan administration.
Claasen was in charge of the day-to-day operations.
According to the charge sheet, Fastcash Trust used an accounting system known as Proloan.
Each staff member had a unique password used to gain access to the system.
The accounting system would record the exact date and time a member logged in.
Each and every loan or payment had to be entered into the accounting system by a staff member against a specific client’s name.
Payments could either be made by means of a direct deposit into the business’s bank account, in cash, or a combination of the two.
It is alleged that between November 2008 and November 2009, the three accused conspired with one another to defraud Fastcash Trust and some of its clients out of more than R36,000 by processing false loan agreements and even false repayments of the loans.
On Monday, state advocate Ulrike de Klerk told magistrate Lionel Lindoor that Claasen’s mental state had already been assessed by a professor and that the report to determine whether or not he is fit to stand trial should be ready before the end of the week.
Claasen suffered a severe head injury – as well as other injuries – in a car accident after the alleged fraud took place.
Tyala, Manangana and Claasen are all out on warning...

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