A forensic analyst with the police is implicated in an elaborate R614 851 fraud scheme that involved alleged identity thefts and foreign exchange crimes.
Apiwe Qamungwana is accused of being the face of a scheme that allegedly defrauded the Custom Seal Components company. He allegedly pretended to be a salesperson for Blue Hill Mine in Zimbabwe and wanted rock drill bits to be supplied to the mine.
Custom Seal Components is in Roodepoort in west Johannesburg.
But Qamungwana, during his testimony last week in the Johannesburg specialised commercial crimes court sitting in Palmridge, said unknown fraudsters had duped him and used his identity document to take the ill-gotten money.
Qamungwana said he only found out about the fraud when he was in hospital being treated for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, which he said was caused by the gruesome incidents, such as car accidents, that he had to deal with in his line of work. He has worked for the police since April 2016.
Graeme Duncan Cutler, the manager at Custom Seal Components, received a call in 2019 “from a person purporting to be Richman Banda” and claiming to be an employee of Blue Hill Mine, according to the charge sheet presented to the court by state advocate Bongani Chauke of the National Prosecuting Authority.
“The call was about a business proposal wherein Custom Seal Components was to supply rock drill bits to Blue Hill Mine. The requirements and specifications of the item [or] equipment to be supplied were sent to the complainant [Cutler] by Mr Banda,” the charge sheet reads. “The complainant could not find the supplier of the said products and relayed the said message to Mr Banda.”
The prosecution said in its charge sheet that Qamungwana worked “in concert with a person or persons whose identity or identities is or are to the state unknown”.
Banda advised Cutler to contact two companies — SMD and Rockbits — to determine whether they could supply the required specifications, according to the charge sheet. Cutler apparently received an affirmative answer from SMD, which allegedly told him to deposit R614 851.59 into SMD’s FNB account and deposited the amount on 20 October 2019.
“The complainant then made a phone call to SMD to inquire as to the delivery dates, and various excuses were given until the telephone went unanswered. It’s not getting answered to date,” the charge sheet states.
It adds that the FNB account belonged to Sandile Mandla Dlamini, who also told investigators that “his profile was stolen and used to open the [FNB account] after he had lost his identity book”.
The charge sheet states that, in October 2019, the FNB account holder approached British Airways to purchase an air ticket and then went to Travelex Foreign Exchange at OR Tambo International Airport to exchange the currency.
“The transaction receipts from Travelex indicate that the accused [Qamungwana] is the person who received the amounts cashed at Travelex,” the charge states.
But Qamungwana told the court last week that after he graduated with a chemical engineering diploma in 2012, he had struggled to find work in the Eastern Cape and had moved to Ekurhuleni to live with his maternal uncle.
Qamungwana said he became a taxi driver and in 2014 met a man who had introduced himself as Ernest, a businessman who had financial troubles and was expecting a loan from his sister who lived in England.
Two years later Qamungwana joined the police and in 2019 his friend, Ernest, asked for the accused’s passport to help get the funds from Travelex.
Qamungwana testified that he had accompanied Ernest in October 2019. He said he had not seen the details of the card at Travelex, nor had he seen the names of the beneficiaries.
“I do not know Sandile Dlamini, nor have I ever opened an account with FNB. I do not know the complainant [Cutler], nor have I had dealings with him.
“I was [also] a victim. At the moment, I might lose my job,” Qamungwana testified.
He is out on bail and will return to court later in the year.