Two men and a woman, involved in the second hand motor trade, appeared in a court in Cape Town on Monday on multiple charges that included racketeering and fraud.
Erens Johannes Uys, 48, and Crische Uys, 30, both of Chapman Road in Gordon’s Bay, and Denzil Bell, 35, of Caledon, appeared in the Specialised Commercial Crime Court in Bellville before magistrate Sabrina Sonnenberg.
The woman, Crische Uys, faces 48 charges – 13 of fraud, 13 of theft by false pretences, nine of forgery, nine of uttering, and one of racketeering, one of incitement to commit forgery, one of incitement to commit uttering and one of money laundering.
Erens Uys faces 30 counts – 14 of fraud, 13 of theft by false pretences, two of racketeering and one of money laundering.
Although they both lived at the same address, it is not known whether Erens and Crische Uys are married or related, or neither.
Bell faces 10 counts – nine of uttering and one of forgery. Uttering is the presentation of a forged document in a business transaction.
According to the charge sheet, they traded in used vehicles under the name of Highway Motors in Kuils River, in Cape Town’s northern suburbs.
The business was managed by Erens Uys, while Crische Uys kept the books, and Bell was their driver and general assistant, according to the charge sheet.
Erens Uys’s method of operation was to take over vehicles that were due for repossession, from victims who were unable to keep up their monthly instalments.
He was to continue the monthly payments to the financing banks, in exchange for possession and use of the victims’ vehicles.
The State alleges, however, that he failed to pay some, if not all of the arrear installments, and sold the vehicles to unsuspecting third parties.
In some instances, the unsuspecting owners would take their vehicles to Highway Motors for sale, and it is alleged that Uys would either fail to pay the proceeds of the sale to the sellers, or pay less than agreed.
These vehicles were later either repossessed from the innocent new owners, or confiscated by the police as stolen.
It is further alleged that Uys took holding deposits from buyers, but then failed to deliver or would deliver a different, defective vehicle to the buyer, or one that was not properly registered, or one that was reported stolen.
These victims never got their deposits back, it is alleged.
It is alleged that Crische Uys kept the books and records of the business, to give it the appearance of a legitimate concern.
It is alleged also that she sometimes forged vehicle registration papers, so that the new, unsuspecting owner could renew the license, or change the registered ownership, without raising suspicion.
They are expected to go on trial and to plead to the charges on March 22 next year.