Victim given scam artist’s luxury car

Court room. File picture
Court room. File picture
Image: TimesLIVE

A Uitenhage man may have lost more than R300,000 in a black-dollar scam last year – but on Friday he received some retribution when the Port Elizabeth High Court ordered that he be given a Mercedes Benz confiscated from the man who scammed him.

Rhyno Olivier had given Moses Orimutambira R330,000 in cash on May 11 2018 following promises that Orimutambira would make him rich.

But the very next day Orimutambira purchased a silver Mercedes Benz C180 – in cash – with Olivier’s money.

The age-old black-dollar scam entails conning people into believing that pieces of black or coated paper can be turned into bank notes by washing them with chemicals.

Olivier had come across Orimutambira’s services as a traditional healer in a newspaper advert.

Upon Orimutambira’s arrest, police confiscated the vehicle, as well as a further R4,200 in cash.

He was later convicted on fraud charges and is being incarcerated at St Albans Prison.

On October 16, the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) was granted a preservation order in respect of the car and money.

But on January 22, when the AFU moved for a final forfeiture order, deputy judge president David van Zyl expressed concern that the Proceeds of Organised Crime Act (Poca) did not make provision for compensating victims of underlying crime, or more specifically, theft.

The AFU’s advocate Warren Myburgh differed, and the case was accordingly postponed to Friday for argument.

Myburgh said there was no reason in law why the court could not grant the forfeiture and then make an ancillary order that the assets should come to the aid of the victim.

“The reason for the forfeiture is not to enrich the state but to deprive a criminal, in this case a convicted felon, of ill-gotten gains,” he said.

He added that it would be grossly unfair for the state to sell the Mercedes Benz and then deposit the money into the criminal asset recovery account when there was a known victim.

He said it was common practice for the AFU in the Eastern Cape to reimburse victims when it was possible to do so.

There was an inescapable inference that the vehicle was purchased with Olivier’s R330,000 as the Mercedes was bought within 24 hours of Orimutambira having received the money, Myburgh said.

In addition, the seller of the vehicle, Richard Ecaat, was still owed R20,000.

“There is perhaps an unfair view that the AFU is the debt collector for the victim . . . but why must the victim approach an attorney? That would be grossly unfair,” Myburgh said.

He said the longer the matter was delayed, the further the vehicle’s value depreciated.

Acting judge Victor Nqumse accordingly ordered that the Mercedes be handed over to Olivier.

Nqumse further ordered that Olivier sell the vehicle and reimburse Ecaat a sum of R20,000