VBS Bank saga: Two of seven suspects pay R100K bail

Former VBS Mutual Bank chair Tshifhiwa Matodzi and his accomplices appear at Palm Ridge Regional Court in Johannesburg, 18 June 2020, after charges of theft of billions of rands from the bank. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

The case is due back in court in October.

Two suspects accused of being involved in the looting of VBS Mutual Bank have paid the R100,000 bail, confirmed the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

The Palm Ridge Regional court had set a 4pm deadline on Thursday for bail money to be paid after seven of the eight suspects linked to the scandal appeared at the court.

EWN reported that former VBS chief executive officer (CEO), Andile Ramavhunga and former Public Investment Corporation (PIC) nominee, Phalaphala Ramikosi were the only suspects who paid the R100,000 bail.

Ramavhuga had initially opposed the current bail amount and argued that this amount should be reduced as he only earns R30,000 per month.

He denied ever being involved in fraud or the looting of the bank, adding that he never received R15 million in illegal proceeds as alleged in the indictment.

Investigating officers are yet to confirm if the remaining five were detained at the Midrand Police Station again as the court had ordered.

READ MORE: Court doesn’t believe VBS accused can’t afford R100K bail each.

The seven suspects, who were this week arrested, are facing 47 charges of racketeering and fraud.

One of the accused, Phillipus Truter, was not in court on Thursday as he was in quarantine after having come into contact with someone who has Covid-19.

Former VBS director and board chair Thsifiwa Matodzi, through his legal representation, argued that he was not a flight risk and added that keeping him incarcerated any longer put him at further risk of contracting Covid-19.

Echoing Ramavhuga’s claims that the current bail amount was too high, accused number four, Phopi Mukhondobwane argued that setting the bail amount at more than R20,000 would essentially mean the court was pre-emptively denying him bail because he could not afford it.

Mukhondobwane claimed to be unemployed and said that he currently depended on his family to survive.

Similarly, accused number five, Sipho Malaba (listed as Nhlanhla Malaba), a former KPMG auditor who was assigned to VBS argued that as a self-employed entrepreneur, he would not be able to afford the current bail amount.

Meanwhile, Ramikosi, who was also an independent non-executive director at VBS indicated his intention to plead not guilty and said he was confident he would be acquitted citing his co-operation with the Hawks prior to his arrest.

Ernest Thifelimbilu Nesane, a former representative of PIC at VBS Mutual Bank also argued that he could not afford anything more than R15,000 for bail given his current “limited access” to financial resources.

Nesane claimed to be unemployed and added that he is responsible for three small children.

ALSO READ: ‘We’re broke’ – VBS looting suspects ask for reduction in bail amount.

Lastly, fellow PIC representative Paul Magula asked the court to consider the fact that he would not be able to generate income if he was detained any longer.

Additionally, he pled with the court to consider that he may not be able to afford any bail amount set by the court given the conditions surrounding his arrest.

Magula also registered his intention to also plead not guilty, adding that he intended to clear his name by attending the trial.

The state had indicated that it will not be opposing bail. The case is due back in court in October.

(Compiled by Molefe Seeletsa. Background reporting, Kaunda Selisho)

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