Convicts in Oranjemund pyramid scheme want bail

13 Jul 2018 17:50pm
WINDHOEK, 13 JUL (NAMPA) – A married couple and their business associate who were found guilty in April this year of running a pyramid scheme at Oranjemund in the //Kharas Region in which investors lost about N.dollars 11.5 million, are now fighting to be released on bail.
They are Jeremia van Niekerk, 48, Melanie van Niekerk, 43, and Charles van Rensburg, 42.
The trio ran the pyramid scheme at the southern diamond-mining town between February 2004 and August 2006.
Upon conviction on 17 April 2018, their bail of N.dollars 50 000 each was withdrawn as per an order issued in court that day.
On Friday, the three brought an urgent application in terms of Section 51 of the Criminal Procedures Act of 1977 as amended, asking High Court Judge Alfred Siboleka for the reinstatement of their bail.
They want the court to again release them on bail on the grounds that they are suffering from high blood pressure and other heart-related illnesses and their continued incarceration at the Windhoek Central Correctional Facility is just worsening their poor health conditions.
The bail hearing continues on Monday when Siboleka is expected to give a ruling in respect of the trio’s request for the reinstatement of their bail.
On 17 April 2018, the three were each found guilty of 256 charges of fraud and theft under false pretences.
They were also each found guilty of 255 counts related to the contravention of the Banking Institutions Act of 1998 for conducting unauthorised banking business investments without a licence and one count of contravention of the Close Corporations Act of 1988 of reckless or fraudulent carrying on of a close corporation.
The judge said in his judgement the three acted in common purpose to defraud investors, adding that the investors were at all times kept in the dark, lied to and falsely told their business investments were sound, while this was not the case.
“The three accused’s pyramid investment scheme was carefully planned to con investors of their hard-earned money. The investors were also carefully conned with promises of high investment interests,” Siboleka said at the time of conviction.
Evidence presented during trial show that Jeremia was the 50 per cent shareholder and Melanie the principal agent of the bogus investment business - West Coast Financial Aid.
The business was operated from the residence of the Van Niekerks at Oranjemund’s 13th Avenue.
They denied all the charges against them when the trial began in the High Court on 04 February 2015.
Deputy Prosecutor-General Ingrid Husselmann is appearing for the State.
Defence lawyers Johan van Vuuren and Christie Mostert are defending the three convicts.