/ 14 April 2024

Smooth talking ‘Casanova fraudster’ Johan Fouché granted bail

Johanfouche 2 Min
Fouché was arrested in Garsfontein, Pretoria, two weeks ago after allegedly defrauding a woman who happened to be a senior police officer in Gauteng. Photo supplied

Former KwaZulu-Natal magistrate Johan Carel Fouché, dubbed the Casanova fraudster for his smooth talk and the way he romanced some of his victims, has been released on bail.

Fouché was arrested in Garsfontein, Pretoria, two weeks ago after allegedly defrauding a woman who happened to be a senior police officer in Gauteng.

The latest case of fraud is one of many that have been opened against him and his alleged accomplice, Leonie Dempers of Edenglo Holdings, over the past 11 years. The victims have alleged that Dempers and Fouché defrauded them of cash and their homes through an elaborate “debt rescue” scheme. 

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Lumka Mahanjani said Fouché appeared in the Benoni magistrate’s court, where he filed a bail application on Thursday and was released on R5 000 bail.

A source close to the case said Dempers was in the courtroom during Fouché’s appearance.

Police spokesperson Colonel Brenda Muridili said Fouché allegedly defrauded his latest victim after telling her he worked for a debt counselling company called Capital Legacy.

“She paid over a R90 000 for her debt rehabilitation and then lent the perpetrator about R14 000, she only received a portion of her money back and that [is] when she opened a case … He is currently going through the court processes,” Muridili said.

She said Fouché had been held in Modderfontein prison since his arrest.

The head of marketing at Capital Legacy, Grant Fietze, said the company had no association with Fouché, who it appeared had used its name fraudulently.

Western Cape Hawks spokesperson Zinzi Hani confirmed the police are investigating at least five fraud cases against Fouché and Dempers, while Muridili confirmed an additional earlier fraud case against Fouché.

Fouché was previously sentenced to seven years imprisonment and a further five years suspended after being convicted of 70 counts of fraud. 

A Mail & Guardian investigation in 2022 reported that Fouché seemed to have found up to 30 new victims and allegedly conned them out of cash and their homes in a string of incidents dating back to 2012.

At the time of the M&G’s 2022 investigation Fouché appeared on the website of Asiphakame Financial Services as its chief operating officer, which he ran with Leonie Dempers.

The firm, whose website no longer exists, described itself as “a complete financial wellness partner to our clients” promising to help over-indebted consumers with services including “loan sourcing”, “credit record rehabilitation”, “bond originating” and “bond rescue”.

Asiphakame advertised on its site that its offering includes “helping people whose bonds are already in distress; often to the point of stopping the execution sale on the day of the auction and saving our client’s house”. 

But the website, which was active just three weeks ago, has since been deactivated.

Asked previously to comment about the complaints and fraud cases clients have successfully opened against them, Fouché and Dempers said these were civil matters and that the people involved had signed agreements and later changed their minds. 

The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks) in the Western Cape and police in Gauteng earlier confirmed they are investigating six fraud cases against Fouché and Dempers. 

Several homeowners who were in financial distress claim Fouché and Dempers conned them of cash and sold their homes to “investors” in elaborate schemes. 

The pair would open a business in the name of both the indebted homeowner and an investor who would rent the property to the homeowner.

The victims were told they would have the option to buy it back after seven years. The scheme led to the property being legally transferred into the names of the investors, with fresh bond accounts in their names. 

The victim would pay rent into one of Fouché’s business accounts and he was supposed to pay the rent to the investor, who would pay the new bond every month. 

But homeowners and investors soon realised that the scheme had collapsed when Fouché failed to pay over the funds and the bond accounts fell into arrears. The banks then sold their homes on public auction.

Dirk Burger, one of the homeowners who claims he was defrauded by Dempers, this week welcomed Fouché’s arrest but said he was shocked he had been granted bail.  

“I hope the police do a thorough investigation regarding this matter because a lot of victims have been affected by his scheme and Leonie Dempers scheme. I hope the prosecuting authority does a proper case around this scheme of his and prosecutes him to the full extent of the law,” Burger said.

“Hopefully by now, they should be able to have enough evidence to convict him because he is in and out the whole time, and then he disappears and then suddenly he rocks up in another place,” Burger said.

Lizl van Rooyen, a paralegal who was still studying to qualify when she was allegedly scammed by Dempers in 2012, said she is gathering evidence on behalf of seven victims for a criminal case the Hawks is investigating. She said she had sold her home to an investor that Dempers had introduced to her but her home was eventually sold under execution by Absa after the new bond on the property was not paid.

Van Rooyen said she was “ecstatic” about Fouché’s “long overdue” arrest but she was disappointed he had been released on bail.

“The justice system seems to be slow and  evident that he is given the green light to continue with his fraudulent actions,” she said.

“What remains a mystery to me is that Johan Carel Fouché (previously convicted of fraud) and his accomplice Leonie Douglas Dempers have escaped the Hawks and the law for many years despite ample cases and investigations against both of them.

“Johan Carel Fouché and Leonie Douglas Dempers have, with their connections, defrauded many innocent people for years,” she alleged.

Dempers declined to comment.