A KwaZulu-Natal couple who “sold” houses they did not own or have a mandate to market or handle transfers for were sentenced in the Durban Commercial Crimes Court on Friday for fraud amounting to around R10.5m.
National Prosecuting Authority regional spokesperson Natasha Kara said Sashin Sewpersadh pleaded guilty to 29 counts of fraud, four of theft and 29 of contravening the Attorneys Act in October last year.
He had passed himself off as an attorney or conveyancer and convinced people he had permission to sell properties in Phoenix and uMhlanga.
“However, these properties were not for sale, nor did the accused have any consent to advertise or sell them,” Kara said.
Sewpersadh’s wife, Chantal, pleaded guilty to five counts of money laundering.
They also pretended to be South African Revenue Service officials and convinced one of the complainants they could help her pay back money she owed to the taxman.
In one instance, they pretended to be insurance brokers and had complainants deposit money into their bank account.
Prosecutor Ranjini Govender said simply pleading guilty does not necessarily show remorse and asked the court to consider that what they had done was premeditated and carefully planned – that they were not lured into the crime.
Sewpersadh was sentenced to 15 years in jail and his wife to five years.
In terms of Section 276(1)(i) of the Criminal Procedure Act, Chantal will serve 10 months in prison and then attend programmes meant to address the offences committed.
This section of the act states that a person must serve one sixth of their sentence before being considered for parole.
The director of public prosecutions in KwaZulu-Natal, advocate Elaine Zungu, welcomed the sentences.
“Sentences of this nature show how seriously the courts view crimes of fraud and money laundering. Congratulations to the team involved in this successful prosecution.”