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Tshifhiwa Matodzi, former chair of VBS Mutual Bank. Picture: MDUDUZI NDZING
Tshifhiwa Matodzi, former chair of VBS Mutual Bank. Picture: MDUDUZI NDZING

The former chairperson of the defunct VBS Mutual Bank, Tshifhiwa Matodzi, has been handed a 495-year sentence for theft, fraud, money laundering and racketeering that culminated in the collapse of the bank.

Matodzi, 47, was sentenced in the Pretoria high court on Wednesday after he pleaded guilty to 33 charges. He was jailed for 15 years on each count, but the sentences will run concurrently.

As part of a plea and sentence agreement, Matodzi admitted to being personally involved in the theft of the billions of rand from 2017 to 2018, by creating fictitious credit in VBS accounts that was then transferred to other accounts.

Almost R2bn was looted in the scandal, leading to the bank’s collapse that devastated many municipalities and individual depositors, many of them elderly.

Lt-Gen Godfrey Lebeya, head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DCPI), also known as the Hawks, said the conviction was a testament to their commitment to bringing white-collar criminals to book. 

“We have always maintained that we will leave no stone unturned in our pursuit of justice, and this outcome reinforces our resolve. Let this serve as a stern warning to those who believe they can escape the long arm of the law,” he said.

“The DPCI will not relent in its mission to bring criminals to justice. We are actively pursuing other suspects in this case, and they too will face the full might of the law.” 

Cosatu welcomed the sentence, but expressed concern for the victims.

“This [sentence] is little comfort for the thousands of pensioners, employees at VBS and defrauded municipalities, the working class and the poor who painstakingly saved every penny in the hopes they could one day reap the rewards of their financial discipline or leave some money for their grandchildren’s education,” said spokesperson Zanele Sabela

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