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Compiled by Devina Haripersad

Senior Business/Finance journalist

Warrant of arrest issued for disgraced Priority Escapes director Francois Swart

A couple that lost the R130 000 they paid to Priority Escapes approached AfriForum to try and get justice.

Months after he scammed scores of would-be holidaymakers of millions of rands, a warrant of arrest has finally been issued for Priority Escapes owner Francois Swart.

Advocate Gerrie Nel, who is the head of AfriForum’s private prosecution unit, said police confirmed on 7 December that a J50 arrest warrant had been issued for Swart.

The case was escalated after the involvement of AfriForum’s private prosecution unit after they were approached by a couple that filed a criminal complaint against Swart at the Modimolle police station in August.

ALSO READ: ‘I want to see the Maldives before I die’: Cancer stricken customer pleads for refund from Priority Escapes

Nel said the couple approached AfriForum when they were not given the investigating officer’s details and the officer had failed to contact them about their case. 

“The unit wrote to the station commander expressing concern that a simple case of fraud had apparently been referred to the Hawks for investigation,” he said.

The couple was allegedly defrauded out of more than R130 000 by Priority Escapes. They said they transferred the money to the travel company and Swart sent them documents to confirm their flight and accommodation details. However, these documents seem to have been forged.

Nel says customers must demand justice

Nel said the public needed to demand that complaints of this nature be dealt with quickly so that the principle of ‘justice delayed is justice deprived’ can be re-established in the criminal justice system.

Swart made headlines this year when he told customers that his company was unable to meet its financial obligations. This meant customers were unable to go on their overseas trips they had paid for. Swart also refused to provide any clarity on whether those clients would be refunded.

ALSO READ: Clients furious after Priority Escapes travel agency echoes Hello Darlings scam

In August this year, Swart issued an email to clients stating his company’s incapacity to meet its “financial obligations”.

This, after just under a hundred clients had booked and paid for holidays to the Maldives for 2023. Swart neglected to provide details on refunds or give alternatives to his clients. Additionally, the company’s website and social media pages were removed.

Priority Escapes, previously situated in Fourways, Johannesburg, labelled itself as a Maldives specialist in South Africa. To enhance its trustworthiness, the agency released a series of celebrity endorsements, featuring notable personalities such as Thando Thabethe and Zozibini Tunzi.

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