Zimbabwean lawyer accused of stealing R5 million of RAF money caught up in more drama

An East London attorney facing charges of stealing Road Accident Fund (RAF) money from his clients caused a stir in the magistrate’s court when he opted to represent himself after firing his lawyer moments before the cross-examination of witnesses was set to begin.

Zimbabwean attorney Manfred Chinamasa, accused of embezzling over R5 million in RAF funds, dismissed his legal representative and chose to take on the role of self-representation during the proceedings.

Chinamasa, who is seeking bail after being apprehended by the Hawks at his residence in Beacon Bay, is facing five counts of theft related to his clients’ RAF claims.

Among his clients is former world boxing champion Simpiwe Vetyeka, who was involved in a tragic hit-and-run accident that led to a successful RAF claim.

The state alleges that Chinamasa used his position to assist clients in claiming from the RAF, holding multiple FNB accounts as the sole signatory.

The charges assert that he failed to transfer the funds owed to his clients after their claims were settled, violating his legal obligation to safeguard the money entrusted to him in trust accounts.

During the court proceedings, Sergeant Chumani Mntumni revealed an additional case opened against Chinamasa on February 15, leading to a confrontation between the defendant and the prosecutor regarding the new development.

Despite Chinamasa’s objection to the new charge being raised, Mntumni stood firm, asserting that the case was valid and had resulted in charges against the accused.

“When looking at the issue of the address, we all understand that he doesn’t own the property in Bonza Bay Road and where he was working, we couldn’t find him for a long time.

“On top of that, the applicant testified that he normally travels to Zimbabwe and comes back. There’s nothing that can stop him from going back to Zimbabwe or any other country.”

He testified that 186 transactions were made from Chinamasa’s bank accounts, with about R2.9m transferred to accounts outside SA.

This was after receiving the money from the RAF and transferring it to the accounts, Mntumni said.

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