Two South Africans and a Cameroonian national have been arrested in connection with the theft of R36m siphoned from the estate of late Zimbabwean businessman and socialite Obert Karombe.
Karombe died in a car crash in on April 25 along Harare-Masvingo highway this year.
This was discovered after a woman was arrested after she filed a case of domestic violence against her boyfriend, whom she allegedly had a misunderstanding with over sharing of R5.5m which was shared with them by a former bank employee, who has also since been nabbed in connection with the case.
Nomaphelo Sethi, 28, her Cameroonian boyfriend Rody Martial Nzeya, 43, and Thabiso Matenda appeared at the Makhado magistrate’s court in Limpopo on Monday on charges of theft. They are believed to be part of a syndicate that targets estates of deceased people.
The trio appeared at Makhado magistrate’s court in Limpopo, South Africa yesterday and were remanded in custody for a bail hearing set for 22 July. Matenda is expected to also be present as the first accused in the case when the pair plead for bail.
Matenda is said to have been the mastermind who identified the millions in the late Karombe’s account and hatched a plan to steal from it using a spoof bank account he had created and used to transfer money to various other accounts, including R3m donated to a church in Tzaneen.
The Hawks arrested Matenda in June this year, after he resigned when he was quizzed about the matter by his managers. He has been in custody since being arrested and has had his bail application denied by the Makhado magistrate’s court a fortnight ago.
Sethi, according to South African media outlet Sowetan Live, owns two businesses in Johannesburg, including a clothing shop, while Nzeya is linked to a car dealership, also in Johannesburg. The pair lived in Primrose in Ekurhuleni.
Hawks’ spokesperson Capt Matimba Maluleke said: “The bank opened a case amid suspicion of fraudulent activities, which led to Matenda’s arrest in June. Matenda had allegedly connived with his accomplices to open a new bank account, linked it to Karombe’s account and started distributing all the money from the account.”
Trouble started when the distributor of the money wanted it back and the lovebirds allegedly wanted to keep a portion of it for themselves but disagreed on how to share the loot.
“The couple started to fight over the money when the sender requested it back. When the girlfriend went to the police in Johannesburg to open a case of assault against her boyfriend, the police discovered that the money they were fighting over was actually stolen and Limpopo Hawks were investigating the matter,” said Maluleke.
Police linked them to the theft through their bank accounts.
Sethi and Nyeya were arrested on charges of theft and where then transported to Makhado on Saturday.