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2023/02/07      |  Written By:  Captain Y Mgolodela   |   Province:  Eastern Cape

EASTERN CAPE – The Gqeberha based Serious Commercial Crime Investigation team of the Hawks arrested Mari Du Plessis (61), the owner of Forty Wings Guest house on 3 February 2023. She was nabbed for allegations of fraud, corruption and money laundering. This follows the arrest of her alleged accomplice Ntombikayise Screech (28) on 30 May 2022 for the same allegations.

Allegations are that Screech who worked as an administration clerk at the Gqeberha Magistrate’s court,  forged the signature of the court  manager on booking forms for accommodation of witnesses for the Department of Justice.

During her absence, the supervisor found irregular claim forms at Screech’s  work space of which the majority appeared to have been forged. In addition, the cellphone numbers on the said claims were reported not to be those of the beneficiaries but those of the suspect.

All of the bookings are reported to have been for Forty Wings guest house belonging to Du Plessis in Summerstrand. Numerous electronic transfers were made from the said business account to Screech’s bank account.  Screech allegedly made numerous e-wallet transfers amounting to more than R357 000 to a number of persons as well as transferring more than R1.4 million to her own investment accounts.

The said e-wallet transfers appeared to be kickbacks inclusive of the claims made during the level 5 Covid -19 lockdown period when there was little or no business for local guesthouses. The total value of the aforementioned transactions amounted to more than R2.1million.

Screech was arrested on 30 May 2022 and appeared in court where she was remanded in custody until 01 July 2022 and  was ultimately released on R2000 bail. 

Meanwhile Du Plessis made her first court appearance in Gqeberha Specialised Crime Court on 03 February 2023, the day of her arrest. She was released on R2000 bail and the matter was remanded to 15 May 2023 to set a trial date. Duplessis will be joined by her co-accused Screech on the set day.