Former Affirmative Action Deputy President Elizabeth Nyathi, was last Friday sentenced to six years in prison at the Johannesburg Specialised Commercial Crimes Court after being found guilty of 10 counts of fraud.
Nyathi who was deputy to flamboyant ZANU PF legislator Philip Chiyangwa defrauded a Johannesburg auctioneer over R700 000 in a deal on antique goods and jewellery where nothing of the money was recovered.
Nyathi duped the Old Johannesburg Warehouse Auctioneers in Selby by making fake payments to settle items worth R721 579 she purchased from four auctions.
Christiaan Scholtz, the owner of the Old Johannesburg Warehouse Auctioneers, said that since the trial started last year he hadn’t recovered the lost money besides Nyathi’s repeated promises to settle the debt.
“We have not received any money back and there are always promises, but the magistrate said it’s very unlikely that we’re getting any back,” said Scholtz.
He added that despite the large loss of money, the company overcame the ordeal, with lessons learnt.
“It taught us some lessons about business and not to trust everyone anymore, but the business is strong, so we are blessed,” he said.
The antique goods included seven Rolex watches, diamond and gold rings, kitchenware and furniture, which Nyathi had bought between January and April last year.
About 90% of the goods that the auction house sells are from private individuals and, once sold, the auctioneer takes a percentage from the sale.
Magistrate Benita Oswell declared that because Nyathi’s passport expired during the course of her trial, she will be deported to Zimbabwe after serving her time. Oswell said Nyathi had a gift to manipulate people without showing any remorse.
Prosecutor Richard Chabalala also revealed that Nyathi is also wanted by Interpol in Zimbabwe for a 2012 case where she allegedly stole more than $250 000 worth of maize seeds from a Zimbabwean seed production company.
Scholtz said he was grateful for the work that Chabalala and the Hawks investigator did in the case.
Chabalala said the complainant was at least consoled by the fact that “the people who caused their loss will be spending time behind bars and later be removed from the Republic of South Africa and returned to Zimbabwe.”
Chabalala added that victories in cases like these sent a strong message to other criminals.
“Victories of this sort send a loud and clear message to other like-minded people that these types of crime will not go unpunished, and it helps to instil fear in criminals,” he said.