Eight accused in VBS case granted bail

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The Palm Ridge Regional Court in Ekhuruleni has granted bail of R100 000 to each of the eight accused in the VBS Mutual Bank case on Thursday.

In delivering his ruling in their bail application, Magistrate Brian Nemavhidi said in view of the state opposing bail, he did not deem it necessary to detain the applicants.

According to their bail conditions, the eight accused are not allowed to leave the borders of South Africa, they must hand over their passports, and may not apply for new passports and also not interfere with state witnesses.

The accused face 47 charges of fraud, racketeering, corruption, theft and money laundering which amounts to R2 billion. It is believed stokvel groups, pensioners and 20 municipalities lost billions of rands in the looting scheme.

In the video below, the accused appear in court: 

‘Payback the money’

A pensioner, who invested hundreds of thousands of rands of her late husband’s pension in VBS, is not convinced that the arrest of alleged VBS looters will bring positive results.

Elisa Mudau says she fears that the accused may just pay fines, or bribe judicial officials and walk free without paying back the money.

Mudau, a single parent, who invested all her late husband’s pension money into VBS, now suffers from ill-health.

Her health deteriorated after news of the VBS looting broke over two years ago. She is part of over 3000 depositors, including pensioners, whose money was stolen allegedly by bank executives and politicians.

Depositors, who had deposited less than R100 000, were allowed to withdraw their money.

Unlike most of the people who are happy that some of the alleged looters have been arrested, Mudau is not. She says she will only have a sense of peace once she gets her money back.

“I invested the money into the bank to assist me in future, to take my children to school, and all a sudden the looting took place. The rich stole money from the poor. I am not happy that they were arrested. I am not even going to watch them appearing in court on TV. I want my money back. I cannot be happy that they have been arrested whereas they are not paying back the money. Let them pay back our money first, if needs be, let their properties be sold for us to get out money.”

Limpopo government welcomes the arrests : 

Relief over arrests

Another investor, Aubrey Mulaudzi, says he is happy that the accused have appeared in court. Mulaudzi, who is a motor mechanic, says the demise of the bank has affected his business negatively.

He says he has retrenched some workers as a result. “We are happy that at last, they have arrested some of the people who are suspects but our problem is that it took so long for them to be arrested because we don’t know whether some of the money was hidden. The impact was so bad that the pensioners some of them passed away after they heard that the bank had collapsed. They will not get their money. As a business person, I have retrenched many people because all my money was in VBS.”

Former VBS Board Chairperson, Madambi Muvhulawa, says what is left now is for the National Prosecuting Authority to prosecute all those accused in the looting of the bank.

“The NPA is still going to trial them. So, we don’t know what is going to happen. We expect that they will take it seriously just like the investigations officers have taken it seriously.”

Authors- Rudzani Tshivhase and Prabashni Pillay