BY: Odette Parfitt
Andrea Wessels in court bid to prevent seizure of property
Alleged fraudster Andrea Wessels, whose cars and homes have already been seized to recoup millions of rands she allegedly siphoned from Nelson Mandela Bay’s Integrated Public Transport System (IPTS), now stands to lose her business as well.
Wessels appeared in the Port Elizabeth High Court yesterday and asked for a postponement, saying the documents she needed to prove her business was not funded by ill-gotten gains were in the hands of the police.
Wessels, and her coaccused – former EP Rugby president Cheeky Watson, Nadia Gerwel, a former assistant director in the metro’s finance department, Mandisi Mkasa, a former director of Laphum’ilanga Transport Services, and former Access Facilities and Leisure Management chief executive Stephan Pretorius – face charges of fraud and money laundering relating to the IPTS.
Zeranza 299, a company in Uitenhage of which Wessels is the sole director, was also listed as an accused.
Since the court case began in March, two properties in Summerstrand and vehicles belonging to Wessels and her children have been seized.
Now Wessels is opposing a forfeiture order by the National Prosecuting Authority’s Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU), which wants to seize Zeranza’s premises.
As the property was placed under a preservation order, Wessels is entitled through Section 39 (3) of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act 121 of 1998 to oppose the forfeiture order.
In her application, Wessels said: “I have stated that the money which was used to purchase the property … were the profits which were made by the company … Zeranza 299.
“However, I have not been able to support this allegation … the reason being that the members of SAPS … removed all the accounting documents pertaining to Zeranza 299. “As result thereof, I have now been left with no documents to support the opposition of a granting of a forfeiture order against me.”
The National Prosecuting Authority opposed the application for postponement, referring to an affidavit by investigating officer Captain Johannes Fourie.
The affidavit read: “No financial accounting documents pertaining to Zeranza 299 were ever removed.
“As I indicated in my supporting affidavit, the applicant utilised the IPTS funds in acquiring the house and it is in that vein that the house is proceeds of unlawful activities and is liable to forfeiture.”
Wessels’s application was granted by Judge Elna Revelas.
A new date has not been set yet as Wessels asked that the matter should not be placed on the court roll until she received the documents in question.
The IPTS case will be heard on October 13.