Four in court over R2m fraud

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Two former employees of a North End business, along with the boyfriend of one accused and the mother-in-law of the other, appeared briefly in the Port Elizabeth Commercial Crimes Court on Friday where they face charges of fraud totalling more than R2m.Megan Brooks and Rochanda Lynn Leander, both former employees of Keens Wholesalers, along with Brooks’s boyfriend, Leroy Jamilton Bezuidenhout, and Leander’s mother-in-law, Bernadette Patricia Hendricks, are accused of opening fake bank accounts into which payments meant for suppliers were paid instead.It is alleged that Brooks and Bezuidenhout opened an FNB bank account in the name of Health Shield, a supplier of Keens Wholesalers, on which both were signatories.Over a five-month period from September 2017 to February 2018, Brooks and Leander, who were both employed as office administrators for Keens, allegedly effected cash deposits into the account.In total, R1,763,395.81 was paid into the false account.On Friday, state prosecutor Ulrike de Klerk told magistrate Lionel Lindoor that legal representatives for each of the accused were still busy with merit consultations which needed to be finalised before the matter could go to trial.De Klerk said legal counsel for Bezuidenhout, Theuns Roelofse, had indicated to her that he was waiting for the other parties to conclude their consultations before he could complete his.Francois Slabbert, for Brooks, said once he had finalised his merit consultation with his client he would know a way forward.Anlen Murray, for Leander, confirmed she was in the process of completing her merit consultation and would endeavour to assist legal counsel for the other accused.It is further alleged that during December 2017, Hendricks opened a Standard Bank account in her name in which deposits had been made purportedly as payments for MPL, another of Keens’s suppliers.Between December 2017 and February 2018, R318,347.40 had allegedly been deposited into the account belonging to Hendricks, which had been misrepresented as that of MPL.All four accused face a total of two counts of fraud and two of contravening the Prevention of Organised Crimes Act. They have not pleaded. At their first appearance, all four were released from custody on warning, with specific conditions.Lindoor postponed the matter to May 7 to allow all of the parties to conclude their consultations.

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