The man who opened a fraud case that led to the arrest of famous gospel musician Dr Tumi says he did not know that the singer was involved in the matter.
Billy Itumeleng Simamane, 38, runs The Message, a non-profit organisation (NPO) whose name was used to defraud the National Lotteries Board of R1.5m in 2018.
He said he only found out who Dr Tumi, real name Tumisang Victor Makweya, 39, was when he and his wife Googled the musician's name, which was contained in a document he had received from the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) regarding the case.
Simamane opened the case of fraud in November 2019 in Bekkersdal, on the West Rand. “I didn't know that the musician was involved and I was really shocked when I discovered it was him. My wife and I saw his name in the documents we received from the National Lotteries Commission and she Googled it because she said the name looked familiar and that is when we discovered that it was Dr Tumi,” Simamane said.
“I have never met him. I only see him on social media and I have no relationship with him.”
Dr Tumi and his wife Kgaogelo Sara Makweya, 36, handed themselves in at the Hawks' Johannesburg office, escorted by their attorney, and they were subsequently charged for fraud, the unit said in a statement on Tuesday.
Spokesperson Capt Ndivhuwo Mulamu said the couple was released on R5,000 bail each after an appearance in the Palm Ridge magistrate's court.
She said the Makweyas' co-accused Chistopher Tshivule, 46, and Thomas Ndadza, 48, were arrested in November last year. They were granted R3,000 bail. The case was postponed until May 7.
Simamane said his NPO specialises in skills development that includes technical skills (plumbing and tiling), and life skills. He is also a pastor.
He said he was approached by Tshivule with the promise that he would assist him by submitting an application to receive funding for his NPO in 2018.
“He asked me what I needed assistance with and I told him that the core of my operations is based on computer work, so I need computers. He [Tshivule] said he had connections at the NLC and he would help me with my application.”
Simamane said he grew concerned after he could not get hold of Tshivule for months.
According to a 2019 statement he made to the Bekkersdal police, Simamane claimed that Tshivule fraudulently changed information of the NPO on the grant application submitted to the NLC for approval of funding.
“The funding was approved and Simamane’s signature was forged on the grant agreement and funds were transferred into the unknown Absa account. The account was opened at Absa bank Makhado in Limpopo. Tshivule and Ndadza, along with a third person who cannot be named as he has not been charged yet, are signatories of the account. The NPO suffered an amount of R1,575,000 [in losses]," reads the statement.
“I have been engaging with the person I gave documents to to explain to me what has happened to the funding but he always evaded me. The money was paid in 2018 and the following year I opened a case,” Simamane said.
He said he discovered that banking details and names of other directors were removed from the application. “I found that a company certificate was the only thing that was legit and the rest were unknown.”
He said he felt aggrieved because all he wanted was computers. “They [computers] would have helped me and my community, but I didn't know that I was being used,” Simamane said.