Fraud accused blames police bungling
POLICE incompetence, combined with the deaths of key witnesses, has been blamed for the incarceration of a Kimberley woman, who is facing charges of defrauding vulnerable city residents who were facing personal financial problems.
The accused, 51-year-old Lesley Nieuwenhuizen, is facing multiple charges, including fraud and money laundering, stemming from two cases and will remain in custody until her trial continues today.
Yesterday, Nieuwenhuizen took the stand and testified that the deaths of two financial consultants, Claudette Visser and Johan van Vuuren, had been to her detriment as the pair were now not able to testify on her behalf.
She added that this situation could easily have been avoided had the two cases currently before the court, been included in an earlier fraud trial, dating back to 2006.
Shortly before court adjourned yesterday afternoon, Nieuwenhuizen blamed police incompetence for much of her time in custody. She alleged that the only reason why these two cases were not included in her previous trial, which resulted in a single fraud conviction in 2011, when Van Vuuren and Visser were still alive to testify, was because a multitude of documents had gone missing.
“These cases come from 2008 and 2010 and I was sentenced in 2011,” she testified yesterday. “Most of the relevant documents and statements were taken before 2011.
“My point is that everyone was aware of these cases and the witnesses were available to testify. If they (police) had done their work properly and used witnesses, I would not need to testify now.
“The police had the time to get the relevant statements from people who were still alive then.
“I was in custody for 15 months and the law enforcement were well aware of these cases, but they didn’t proceed with them until two months before I was due for parole.”
Under cross-examination, Nieuwenhuizen explained that her previous trial involved 31 cases, 20 of which couldn’t be resolved because there were no dockets available.
She added yesterday that dockets for Marthinus Claasen and Brenda van Aswegen, the two cases that are currently before the court, were probably among those that couldn’t be traced.
“It was because the police lost their files that I am still sitting. Justice should be for both parties. They (Visser and Van Vuuren) could have testified had police not lost the dockets. The initial trial lasted for five years.”
In earlier testimony, Kimberley resident Van Aswegen had stated that Nieuwenhuizen had convinced her and her husband, Martin, to invest R200 000 in her company with promises of a handsome monthly return on the investment.
Van Aswegen said that the couple had been led to believe that the monthly return of R10 000 would come from the interest incurred on their initial sum as Nieuwenhuizen would deposit the pension money from her account into an investment company.
However, according to Van Aswegen, the couple have to date not received any return on the investment nor has their initial R200 000 been refunded.
Nieuwenhuizen disputed this version of events and she said that this payment had been for an investment that the couple were taking over from her, as she required funds to cover legal expenses after her trial began in 2006 and continued for five years.
“This R200 000 was my own money because they had taken over the investment. The intention was never to invest this money. It was my money.”
She further denied defrauding the couple, claiming to have gone above and beyond what could have been expected of her in order to assist them.
Port Elizabeth resident Claasen had also previously testified that he had been introduced to Nieuwenhuizen in 2007, when financial troubles forced him to put his home on the market and the accused offered to help transfer his bond from Nedbank to SA Homeloans.
Claasen said that he had made three separate payments, one of ACCUSED: Lesley Nieuwenhuizen appeared in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court yesterday and is facing multiple charges, including fraud and money laundering. R2 790 in December 2007 and two of R5 600 and R3 000 respectively in early 2008. He said that he was to get R105 000 paid into his bank account.
Subsequently, Claasen claimed that he had never received any payout nor refund from the accused.
Nieuwenhuizen again denied any wrongdoing, saying that she had been misled by Claasen, who had not informed her that his bond repayments to Nedbank had been in arrears for more than a year.
“Most banks require that your bond must be up to date for at least three months, which wasn’t the case,” she said. “It was only when I went to his pay office that I realised that the amount reflected as payment on his bond was actually payment for his vehicle.
“The amount of R105 000 wasn’t intended to give the wrong impression but was the amount given during pre-approval.
“I did not defraud or mislead Claasen and even though it was his fault and we couldn’t assist, I still paid back my commission.”
Cross-examination of Nieuwenhuizen will continue in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court this morning.
Picture: Danie van der Lith