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Pensioners tell of scam heartache
07 February 2012

Estelle Ellis [email protected]

THE Port Elizabeth High Court has ordered that the estates of a Port Elizabeth couple and a George businessman be frozen pending their criminal prosecution following the collapse of a R12.8-million pyramid scheme.

The extensive businesses, property interests and vehicles held by Silvia Viljoen, George Kolbe and Kobus Viljoen will remain under the control of a curator pending the outcome of their criminal case.

Court papers contain the affidavits of pensioners, one of them aged 90, and other investors who told of their devastation on losing, in most cases, their life savings.

The court will hear an application for a final restraint order on February 28.

The restraint order is the last hope of the scores of elderly victims. If the three are convicted, the court will probably order that their victims be compensated from the sale of these assets.

They appeared in the city’s commercial crimes court on January 26 and are charged with fraud, theft, reckless trading, conducting a pyramid scheme, unlawfully conducting the business of a bank and failure to keep proper records.

Kobus Viljoen is also charged with managing the affairs of a closed corporation while an unrehabilitated insolvent.

The Viljoens formerly ran F&J Consultants, with branches in Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown.

In November 2006, F&J Consulting was liquidated.

According to papers filed by the Asset Forfeiture Unit, it intends to seize the owners’ remaining assets and business interests to compensate the victims of the scam.

Court papers said investigators’ affidavits claimed that F&J Consultants was run as a moneylender, providing micro and bridging finance. The business was financed with the public’s money and early investors were offered rates of up to 36%.

At first, investors were allegedly given the impression that F&J Consultants was highly successful.

But a forensic audit revealed the liabilities of the business exceeded its assets soon after inception, it is alleged. Auditors also warned the Viljoens as early as 2004/2005 that they were operating under insolvent circumstances.

It was only after the collapse of the scheme, court papers say, that investigators discovered investors’ money was used to fund 13 other businesses.

Hester Volschenk, 90, said she and her family had invested R100000 from the proceeds of the sale of their farm with the Viljoens and lost the entire investment.

The Viljoens’ cousin, Tania Volschenk, said she had lost more than R3-million in the scheme.

“I put all my trust in Kobus … It changed my life completely. It would not be possible to replace the money that was lost.”

Pensioner Gertruida Petronella Bloom, 74, said in papers she was now dependent on a state pension after she lost her and her late husband’s entire savings of R200000.

She said Viljoen “spoke so much about God that I believed he was an honest man”.

Pensioner Gladys Florence Logie was told her investment would be safe as Viljoen had a game farm worth a lot of money.

She said she and her husband had decided to give their investments to Viljoen as they needed to supplement their income and were caring for a niece who was sick and in constant need of medicine.

The money had been made up of pension funds, investments and proceeds from the sale of their house. “We lost our whole investment,” Logie said.

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Your Views

vim 11 February 2012 9:54 am

Gwen Bisseker, would egg yolk remove the green tinge from blonde hair, or would it add some sparkle by producing pretty blue copper sulphate crystals?…

The Struggle 10 February 2012 2:09 pm

Cde Lulu Johnson’s deployment as chairman of portfolio committee – Agriculture, Forestries …

The Struggle 10 February 2012 2:03 pm

Clearly the ANC Nelson Mandela Bay Regional Chairman, Cde Nceba Faku ran the municipality as his own backyard. He has enriched himself. The ANC in the region cannot continue be led by a self-centere…

BrandGat 10 February 2012 10:47 am

Looks like Lloyd Edwards is being set up here,and the someone is being lined up to get the required permit! dirty tricks again?…

BrandGat 10 February 2012 10:24 am

So what`s new in the new South Africa!…

BrandGat 9 February 2012 1:17 pm

To all those in the”Struggle” it continues on and on because now you struggle to be ”King of the Hill’, every one wants to be top dog so knives come out and the struggle continues,until you end up d…

dokhotelo 8 February 2012 10:41 pm

…and by the way. Malema had very efficient accountants so they can explain in plain hyerogliphics how a poor man with only a miserable salary of Prez of the Youth Fleague can metamorphose his money …

dokhotelo 8 February 2012 10:32 pm

PeSter: I am an authentic astronaut too!!!….Your statements don’t hold, because they are biased. You might not be approving corruption, but, unless I read The Vuvuzerald from another planet, every d…

PStir 8 February 2012 11:08 am

I AM an independent accountant, I do my own taxes and 50% and 9 days are over-the-top and far-fetched, if you don’t want water, electricity (when they are available) or your nice house then go without…

mastermindPE 8 February 2012 10:35 am

@PeSter – you will get the shock of your life when you realise you work only 9 days out of every month for yourself, the rest of the month – you work for the trough of the snout gobblers and gravy qua…