Pastor appears on fraud charges

A pastor with the Harvest Time Ministries, who allegedly ran an unregistered real estate business, made his first appearance in the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court on multiple fraud charges and one of money laundering.

Cyril John Jacobs (44) of Retreat in Cape Town’s southern suburbs, was not asked to plead when he appeared before magistrate Sabrina Sonnenberg yesterday.

He faces 21 counts of fraud.

He told the court he wished to engage privately funded counsel, and asked for a postponement of two to three weeks in order to raise the money.

Questioned by the magistrate, he said he had just started a new job.

According to the charge sheet, he operated the real estate business Bethesda Real Estate, but failed to register it with the Registrar of Companies.

Prosecutor Simone Liedeman alleges he assured people in need of housing that Bethesda could assist them in raising deposits that would ensure home-ownership for them.

It is alleged he and a Bethesda employee actively engaged and promoted the unregistered business, by word of mouth and newspaper advertisements.

Victims were required to apply for personal loans to obtain the required deposits, and to then pay the deposits to Jacobs.

Deposits were paid, but no receipts were issued to the victims, it is alleged.

According to the charge sheet, the victims became suspicious when it became increasingly difficult to contact Jacobs, who could not be reached via his cellphone and could not be found at his business premises or residence.

It is alleged Jacobs illegally accepted deposits for housing, and kept the money for himself, between June 2009 and September 2011.

The charge sheet does not indicate the total amount involved, but the deposits paid range from R4000 to R250 000.

Jacobs was warned to return to court on October 2, either with his defence counsel or a free legal aid attorney.

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