Uncovering of the VBS scandal is a marvellous example of how the sophisticated, first world side of South Africa’s economy can be practically applied to the benefit of the entire nation.
The plundering of a small mutual bank created in the Apartheid’s Venda homeland, was very third world in its application. Ditto the reaction of conspirators, whose defence was ignorance, or the concoction of obviously fabricated tales.
But as the saga unfolds, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that kingpins Matodzi, Ramavhunga and Malaba and their VBS stooges like Truter, Nesane, Magula, Ramikosi and others plus a long list of elected municipal officials never stood a chance.
It was as if they had a knife in a gun fight. Or bows and arrows when opponents possessed a Gatling gun.
Lies and subterfuge by those who perpetrated industrial scale plunder of small scale savers and the deposits of municipal ratepayers, were smashed by a very first world tool – South Africa’s Financial Services Regulation Act. This potent act was gazetted last August and brought into effect in April this year.
Four days after Motau’s appointment he applied the act’s comprehensive search and seizure powers – with support of his appointed evidence gathering specialists Basileus Consilium - to raid VBS’s head office at Makhado. Then a few days later did the same at the bank’s Sandton and Thohoyandou branches.
The document gathering exercise was closed out by the 7th of May raid on the Sandton offices of VBS’s ostensible controlling shareholder Vele. So, within a month, Motau had all the documentation he’d ever need.
The Act also empowered him to recruit highly skilled resources to process all of this information.
Enter data specialists FACTs Consulting which scanned and converted the seized documents into a searchable digital format. And Crowe Forensics, the specialised chartered accountants who focus on uncovering crime by crunching suspicious transactions and bank accounts.
Also part of Motau’s force was fellow senior counsel Ross Hutton and two other advocates; plus a team from Werksman’s led by Bernard Hotz, head of the firm’s Business Crimes and Investigations practice.
The ace in Motau’s royal flush, though, was section 140 of the new FSR Act which incentivised those involved to tell the truth.
During interviews conducted over four and a half months, a pattern emerged. Deeply implicated witnesses began by offering brazen lies. But once Section 140, which offered them criminal indemnity, was explained, many of the 30 witnesses requested another hearing.
And second time round their stories turned 180 degrees, with falsehoods replaced by open admission of their part in the VBS conspiracy built on greed and fear.