Tshifhiwa-Matodzi chairman of VBS-Mutual-Bank arrested

South African authorities would dock today eight people suspected of illegally siphoning 2.3 billion rand ($133.87 million) from small lender VBS Mutual Bank.

The bank collapsed in 2018 because of the corruption scandal.

According to an online medium, amabhungane.org, the eight suspects were arrested in a coordinated multi-province search and seizure operation by the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

L-R Ramavhunga, Truter, Ramikosi and Matodzi

Those arrested include the bank’s former chairperson, Tshifhiwa Matodzi, chief executive, Andile Ramavhunga, treasurer, Phophi Mukhodobwane, and chief financial officer, Philip Truter.

Heavily compromised outsiders were also arrested.

VBS Mutual Board

This includes two former representatives of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) to the VBS board, Paul Magula and Ernest Nesane. They allegedly accepted bribes to look the other way.

Godfrey Lebeya, head of South Africa’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, said four people were already in custody.

“As soon as all the relevant processes are completed, we will be securing the attendance of the eight suspects in court,” he told a news conference.

The head of the National Prosecuting Authority Shamila Batohi added that they were due to appear in court on Thursday.

She described the heist as “probably the biggest bank robbery in this country.”

Batohi added, “We have an obligation to all South Africans to deliver justice in this matter … It is our duty to the direct victims of corruption.”

Charges included five counts of racketeering, 12 of theft, seven of fraud and 15 of corruption, Lebeya said.

VBS was a little known lender until it gained notoriety in 2016 for providing a 7.8 million rand ($660,000) loan to former president Jacob Zuma to reimburse the state for illegitimate upgrades to his personal home including a swimming pool and amphitheatre.

The money that went missing included cash from sizeable short term deposits by municipalities, and some 50 people were thought to be involved