Pierrette De Beer, 40, Coenraad Frederik De Beer, 47, Sean Hendrik De Beer,35, Maria Elizabeth Viljoen,71, Rikus Engelbrecht (55) and Susanna Maria Fransina Engelbrecht (59) appeared at the Port Elizabeth Magistrates Court on charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering linked to a Sanral road project contract.
Two companies have also been charged, Cat Civils SA (PTY) LTD and Cumax 184 Close Corporation.
The accused have been charged with 35 counts of corruption, fraud and money laundering amounting to more than R9,7 million.
National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Anelisa Ngcakani said that in 2015, the Penny Farthing Engineering SA (Pty) Ltd (PFE) branch in Gqeberha concluded a contract with the South African National Roads Agency SOC LTD (Sanral), to resurface the national road between Elliot and Barkly East, in the Eastern Cape.
PFE, as the main contractor, appointed sub-contractors to fulfill the contract. All sub-contractors appointed by PFE had to be approved by Sanral and sub-contractors were not allowed to appoint further sub-contractors without PFE’s permission.
Rikus was employed by PFE to work on the project as a general foreman. His duties included the monitoring of work progress and the verification of claims made by sub-contractors in the daily reports they had to submit. He then submitted the reports to Coenraad who was employed by PFE as the site manager.
Pierrette, who is married to Coenraad, was the sole director of Cat Civils, a private company based in Jeffreys Bay. Sean, Viljoen and Coenraad’s half-brother, is the director of Cumax 184, which is based in the Northern Cape. Rikus and Susanna are also a married couple.
Cat Civil had a Netbank and FNB account and Pierrette was the signatory on these accounts while Coenraad allegedly had access to the FNB account.
In 2015, Ugie MacQuarry (Pty) Ltd submitted a quotation for delivery of materials to PFE which was not accepted. Coenraad was mandated by PFE to negotiate with Ugie Mac for a mutually acceptable deal.
“It is alleged that Coenraad instead falsely held out to Ugie Mac that Cat Civils, represented by Sean, was entitled to a brokerage fee for the delivery of material to PFE. The terms and conditions reached in the agreement allegedly also stipulated that Ugie Mac would pay R30 into the bank account of Cat Civils for each ton of materials delivered to PFE as commission payments to the latter for having brokered the deal between PFE and Ugie Mac. Cat Civils had no business relationship with PFE and was not entitled to receive any payments,” Ngcakani said.
From 30 March 2016 to 16 November 2016, Ugie Mac allegedly paid a total of R656 216.62 to Cat Civils. On 26 January 2016, Ibhabhatane Trading was appointed as a sub-contractor by PFE for the road project.
Coenraad allegedly excluded the appointed quantity surveyor from performing oversight duties for the road project and allegedly unlawfully appointed himself and Rikus to attend to the payment certificates of Ibhabhatane. They allegedly unlawfully took control over the invoices and draft payment certificates submitted by Ibhabhatane to PFE.
Coenraad allegedly persuaded and induced Ibhabhatane to accept that it would be in its interest to appoint Sean as Ibhabhatane’s own site agent for the Sanral road project. The advantage held out to Ibhabhatane, was that Sean was an experienced site agent who could be entrusted with the monthly compilation and completion of control sheets, measurements, and draft payment certificates required to be submitted every month to PFE.
In February 2016 Ibhabhatane appointed Sean as its site agent for the road project at a salary of about R26 000 a month. From then onwards, the function of compiling and submitting control sheets, draft payment certificates and invoices, was left by Ibhabhatane to Sean.
It is alleged that Coenraad further mislead Ibhabhatane to believe that the company had fallen behind its delivery targets and therefore was at risk of losing the sub-contract. Consequently, the company accepted an alleged proposal by Coenraad to appoint Cat Civils on a sub-contracting basis to assist Ibhabhatane to meet targets.
Ibhabhatane would allegedly pay Cat Civils based on invoices submitted. It is alleged that Ibhabhatane relied on Sean to monitor and verify the amount of work claimed for by Cat Civils.
The relationship between Coenraad, Sean, Pierrette and Cat Civils was allegedly never disclosed to Ibhabhatane.
It is alleged that Sean, Coenraad and Rikus colluded to inflate the claims submitted for payment on behalf of Ibhabhatane to PFE for work done and not done.
The total amount allegedly overpaid to Ibhabhatane was R 3 555 873.91. Ibhabhatane allegedly paid Cat Civils R650 000.
Cumax 184 was also appointed as a sub-contractor by PFE for the road project. As in the case of Ibhabhatane, it is alleged that Coenraad, in common purpose with Viljoen, fraudulently took control of the sub-contract and manipulated claims by Cumax 184 to PFE. Coenraad and Rikus allegedly unlawfully managed the payment certificates of Cumax 184.
It is alleged that Coenraad and Rikus managed the claims submitted monthly on behalf of Cumax 184 to PFE for payment. The claims were allegedly inflated. Between April 2016 and October 2016, PFE paid Cumax 184 a total of R6 112 282.29. This amount was allegedly inflated by R2 965 935.81.
It is alleged that Viljoen paid Cat Civils a total of R1 920 249.85.
Pierrette, Coenraad, Rikus and Susanna allegedly colluded to transfer R150 000 from Cat Civil to Susanna’s bank account as an alleged gratification payment to Rikus.
Senior State Advocate Lise Keech, did not oppose bail with strict conditions as the accused had co-operated with the Hawks. They handed themselves in for arrest to the Hawks in Gqeberha at 7am on Thursday. Coenraad was granted R8000 bail while Pierrette, Sean and Rikus were granted R5000. Viljoen was granted R3000 bail and Susanna was granted R1000. The case was postponed to 1 June 2021 at the Port Elizabeth Specialised Commercial Crimes Court.