The National Director of Public Prosecutions Advocate Shamila Batohi, has welcomed the arrest of seven of eight suspects in connection with the looting at the Venda Building Society Mutual Bank (known as VBS) between 2015 and 2018.

The suspects are facing 47 counts of various criminal offences and are expected to appear at the Palmridge Regional Court on Thursday.

The Hawks executed warrants of arrest for four of the suspects, and three others are expected to hand themselves over to police on Wednesday.

SABC News Ntlantla Kgatlhane reports: 

The 8th suspect is in quarantine due to COVID-19 and will appear in court as soon as possible. Hawks head, advocate Godfrey Lebeya says the ongoing investigation revealed that the bank received R3.7 billion from 20 municipalities of which R2.2 billion rand was paid back.

The suspects are believed to have either unduly, directly or indirectly benefited from more than R120 million. Batohi has appealed for patience as the matter continues to be investigated. She says this is the first step to serving justice to many who fell victim to the scam.

“We owe it to all the investors of the bank, in particular, the elderly men and women of Limpopo and beyond who lost their hard-earned earnings and lifetime savings. We have an obligation to all South Africans, in general, to deliver justice in this matter as they have in many ways been victims of this crime, but in particular, it is our duty to the direct victims of corruption in this particular matter.”

Below is the Hawks briefing on the arrests: 

‘Investors pleased with work done’

One of the investors in the liquidated VBS Mutual Bank and former board chairperson, Madambi Muvhulawa says investors and depositors are happy at the arrest of the bank’s former executives. 

Muvhulawa says properties of those implicated in the looting must be sold for depositors to recoup their money. 

Ordinary depositors who invested over R300 000 each have not yet received their money back. They were only allowed to withdraw up to R100 000. Muvhulawa is happy that those arrested will face prosecution. 

“We are excited that there is now proof that investigating officers have done their job. And we don’t expect it to end up there, because this money has been channeled to other people that we don’t know and other organisations. We still want the investigations authorities to follow-up until to the core of where the money has ended up. Before they get to the point where money has ended up, we feel we might not get our money back especially that money of the poor of the poorest.” 

Muvhulawa says investigators have shown seriousness in dealing with the case.  “The NPA is still going to trial them, so we don’t know what is going to happen. We will wait to see what the NPA is going to do about it, but we expect that they will take it seriously just like the investigation officers have taken it seriously.” 

He says at one stage the depositors were getting impatient, as it has been two years since investigations were launched.

“When this happened it touched us very much because it involved lots of the money of the poor of the poorest, and we were always worried what happens until the Motau report came out pointing out at some of the members of the board and some prominent people. So we waited for the police to investigate based on the report, so police have always been promising that they were busy. We were losing patience and we thought it is going to disappear like other cases but they assured that this case will never disappear and even told us they have got names of the people.” 

Hawks spokesperson Hangwanai Mulaudzi says more arrests are expected as investigations continue. The suspects are facing 47 charges including racketeering and money laundering.  Authors – Phumzile Mlangeni and Rudzani Tshivhase 

Analysis of the VBS saga with Senior legal journalist Karyn Maughan: