Alleged scamster goes on the run
Businessman accused of stealing R1m from game reserve not in court
A business owner who allegedly scammed an Eastern Cape game reserve out of more than R1m by pocketing the money meant for workmen’s compensation, has gone on the run.
A warrant was issued for the arrest of Marius du Plessis, the sole director of Companies 24/7 (Pty) Ltd, when he failed to appear in the Port Elizabeth Commercial Crimes Court on Wednesday on charges of fraud and theft.
Du Plessis’s firm had been hired by the Kwandwe Game Reserve, near Makhanda.
Companies 24/7 is a private company that offers a variety of services, including new company registrations, BEE certifications and UIF registrations.
The business model of Kwandwe consisted of two legs, including C-SA Properties – the owner of the land – and Kwandwe Guest Services, responsible for the tourist component of the reserve.
Kwandwe and C-SA held separate business accounts at FNB.
According to the charge sheet, Kwandwe Game Reserve senior financial administrator Wilna Storm had experienced problems registering the two companies for workmen’s compensation and accordingly employed Companies 24/7 to effect the registration and determine any outstanding amounts owed by the two companies.Storm then supplied Du Plessis with all relevant company records, including the return of earnings and employer declarations for the period 2012 to 2016.Du Plessis then determined Kwandwe, in terms of workman’s compensation, owed R619,613, while C-SA owed a total R380,164.It is alleged he then convinced Storm that Kwandwe and C-SA first needed to pay the total outstanding amount into the bank account of Companies 24/7 before he could go to Pretoria to register the two companies.On May 27 2016, Du Plessis accordingly invoiced Kwandwe and C-SA for the outstanding amounts, and a total of nearly R1m was paid into his business account later that day.Du Plessis then confirmed the successful registration of both companies with the labour department and supplied Storm with certificates of good standing.In May 2017, Storm again employed DuPlessis to assist her with the return of earnings and employer declarations in respect of workmen’s compensation for the period 2016 to 2017.He determined the amounts owed by Kwandwe and C-SA as R151,000 and R235,000 respectively.The amounts were paid into his bank account.The state alleges that Du Plessis registered only one employee for Kwandwe and none for C-SA.Only R10,320 was paid to the department.The remainder of the money was allegedly misappropriated for his own use.