FLAMBOYANT Nelson Mandela Bay businessman Amier Moosagie has vanished, just two weeks before he was due to be sentenced in the Port Elizabeth High Court for tax fraud totalling R3-million.
Mystery surrounds the disappearance of the Malabar millionaire, who went missing while on holiday in Port St Johns on Christmas Day.
Police said Moosagie left Port Elizabeth for Port St Johns on Monday and booked himself in at the holiday town’s River Lodge.
Police spokesman Captain Mduduzi Godlwana said Moosagie hired a motorcycle at the Ferry Point holiday resort on Christmas Day.
Later in the day, the motorcycle, a rucksack and a fishing rod were found abandoned in a nearby forest.
Moosagie’s cellphone, wallet and other personal belongings were left in his vehicle at the River Lodge, Godlwana said.
"A passer-by recognised the motorbike and contacted Ferry Point. It was abandoned 300m along the sea and next to the forest.
"The rucksack had food inside and the fishing rod was also lying there. However, Moosagie was nowhere to be found,” Godlwana said.
"The police and the dog unit were summoned to the scene to assist with the search for the man.”
He said local police were not aware Moosagie was awaiting sentencing in Port Elizabeth and therefore were not at this stage investigating the possibility that he might have absconded.
Moosagie owns various businesses, including roadworthy testing centres in Port Elizabeth and Mthatha.
His son, Rafeeq, told Weekend Post yesterday that the family was distraught over the news of their father’s disappearance and asked the public to keep them in their prayers.
Rafeeq said the family had been alerted to his father’s disappearance by the owners of the lodge and by the business from which his father hired the motorcycle.
"We went up there [Port St Johns] to search for him. Everything [personal items] were there. The police assured us not to worry and that he will return, but the family is very distraught,” Rafeeq said.
In May, Port Elizabeth High Court Judge Dayelin Chetty convicted Moosagie on a litany of charges including fraud, forgery, corruption, money laundering and racketeering amounting to more than R3-million.
He was found guilty together with his co-accused and business partner, Desiree Jenkins, 54, although she was exempted from the corruption charges.
The guilty verdict came four years after the pair’s arrest and their subsequent trial.
Their conviction is linked to an incident when the pair submitted fraudulent claims for VAT refunds in 2007 and 2008 on behalf of various companies with which they were associated.
The court found that Moosagie had bribed South African Revenue Service employees with expensive gifts including a Rolex watch, a Mont Blanc pen, an expensive suit and an envelope full of money.
He and Jenkins are out on R30000 and R5000 bail respectively and are due to be sentenced on January 12.
Moosagie’s legal representative, Advocate Terry Price, said yesterday he had not been aware that his client had disappeared but that he found it "very suspicious”.
"It sounds very suspicious to me. Moosagie is an old man ... to ride a motorbike,” he said.
Price said a warrant of arrest would be issued should Moosagie fail to appear in court on the due date.
Attempts to contact Jenkins were unsuccessful.
This is a version of an article that appeared in the print edition of the Weekend Post on Saturday, December 29, 2012.