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Compiled by Devina Haripersad

Hefty sentence for bogus estate agent who stole R100k

Papane posed as an estate agent and defrauded his victim.

An elderly Bloemfontein man has been handed a 23 year prison sentence by the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court for posing as an estate agent and swindling a prospective homebuyer out of their downpayment.

The sentence was handed down last Friday, almost a decade after Sabata Israel Papane was charged with fraud, contravention of Section 26 of the Estate Agency Affairs Act, and contravention of Section 4 of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, specifically related to money laundering.

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According to police, the case stems from an incident that occurred on 19 June 2014 when the victim, responding to an advertisement for a house sale in a local newspaper, contacted the number listed – which belonged to Papane.

Police spokesperson, Captain Christopher Singo said after the phone call, a meeting was arranged, during which Papane posed as an estate agent and successfully convinced the victim to purchase the house. The victim signed the contract and transferred R100 000 as a downpayment to Papane.

However, when the victim attempted to take possession of the property, a shocking revelation ensued.

“It became evident that Papane neither owned the house in question nor possessed any legitimate affiliation with the actual owner or authorised estate agency.

“Realising the deception, the victim promptly requested a refund of the payment, only to be met with Papane’s evasion,” he said.

Hawks investigate

Undeterred, the victim reported the matter to the Hawks‘ Serious Commercial Crime Investigation team in Bloemfontein, who initiated a thorough investigation. This investigation culminated in the serving of summonses to Papane on 10 August 2021, leading to subsequent court appearances until his recent sentencing.

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Real estate fraud is not a new concept for South Africans. Last year, the RealNet group, a popular estate agent franchise, reported to the media that several individuals had been fraudulently assuming the identities of authorised agents with the intention of deceiving potential tenants and landlords in specific regions.

The group reported that the scammers aimed to swindle unsuspecting victims by collecting deposits and illegitimate administration fees under false pretences.

The provincial head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks), Major General Mokgadi Bokaba, applauded the investigating team for ensuring this hefty sentence of the Bloemfontein fraudster and has warned the public to be wary of these con artists.

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