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Attorney in court for fraud

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The court heard yesterday how Modakgotla and her husband had used their pension money to purchase the house from Bothma, while Appie drafted the paperwork, despite the title deed being in a different name at the time of the transaction.

Desmond Appie. File image

A LOCAL attorney is facing a charge of fraud in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court following the unsuccessful sale of a house to an elderly couple.

Local lawyer Desmond Appie, 39, and his co-accused, 40-year-old Magdalene Bothma, have been charged with fraud, or an alternate count of theft, for their involvement in the sale of a house to Dorah Modakgotla for R110 000 in 2014.

The court heard yesterday how Modakgotla and her husband had used their pension money to purchase the house from Bothma, while Appie drafted the paperwork, despite the title deed being in a different name at the time of the transaction.

After the deal fell through, the couple were not refunded their money, nor were they able to take ownership of the property, resulting in legal action against the two accused.

During her testimony yesterday, Modakgotla said that the fact that she had watched the accused grow up in front of her, together with the knowledge that Appie had a legal background, gave her confidence that he would ensure an amicable deal.

The pensioner said yesterday that when the couple realised that the transaction was not going smoothly they approached a legal firm, who suggested they open criminal charges after it was established that the title deed was in the name of Amos and Mittah Shuping and not Bothma, as they had been lead to believe.

“We went to the attorney, who said we should see whose name the house was in,” said Modakgotla. “The lady who helped us said that the name on the title deed was Amos and Mittah Shuping.

Title deed

“In other words, the house that we bought for R110 000 didn’t belong to either of the accused. I never got my money back, nor the title deed and was not able to move into the house.”

Modakgotla said that the news was difficult to accept and had left the couple devastated.

“I knew Appie as an attorney who had grown up in front of me,” she said. “When he came to us originally, I was happy to be dealing with a person I trusted and knew well. He was like my child to me.”

Representing herself, Bothma cross-examined the witness as part of her defence and explained that the property was an estate house, belonging to the Shupings, that she had bought through Van der Walt Attorneys.

Bothma said that she had informed the witness of this at the time of the sale, a claim that Modakgotla yesterday denied.

“The transaction was still being processed at Van der Walt,” stated Bothma. “That is why the house was still in the name of Mr and Mrs Shuping.

“There was also some difficulty in getting hold of Mrs Shuping to sign other documents because Mr Shuping had passed on.”

Also representing himself, Appie was next to cross-examine the witness, and put it to the court that while there had been an arrangement for the sale, he was not involved with any arrangements or agreements regarding amounts.

“Bothma phoned me and said she wanted me to draft a contract,” he said. “We agreed that she would come that Monday with the necessary information for me to put it all in black and white.

“When I met Bothma on the Monday, I put it all in black and white. Bothma informed me that Van der Walt had the other transfer documents. I only drafted the contract between Modakgotla and Bothma.

“Between the Saturday that I was phoned and the Monday, I could not have carried any knowledge because I only received the information on the Monday regarding the contracts.”