Jan Adriaan Venter is said to have confided in a colleague that the easiest way to get out of the country, if you had committed fraud, was to fake your own death.
Nearly five months after he was declared dead, Adriaan has been found to have heeded his own advice.
Adriaan and his loyal fiancé, Rozanne Vosloo, were arrested while allegedly trying to escape the country after Adriaan had faked his own death. They are believed to have been apprehended by detectives from Point police station and investigators from Liberty Group Durban while they were on their way to King Shaka International Airport. Yesterday, the couple appeared at the Durban court and police investigations are ongoing.
The niggling feeling that something was amiss among colleagues in the law fraternity, police officers, insurance brokers, journalists and even some friends proved to be more than just blind suspicion. One could call it intuition… or perhaps it was just a logical reaction to the fact that his demise came at a time that was too ‘opportune’ and the details just didn’t add up.
Established and respected attorneys practicing in Vryheid could never understand how Adriaan was doing extravagantly well financially after being in practice for such a short period of time. Then it was discovered, just before his death, that millions of rands in trust money that had been entrusted to Adriaan Venter had ‘gone missing’. Complaints regarding the dubious manner in which Adriaan appeared to be practicing law, prompted an investigation by the Law Society. A damning report was compiled for the Law Society by the Newcastle based DBM Attorneys. In the report, Adriaan was described as a flight risk and, based on the findings, he was suspended from practicing law and preliminarily debarred.
The day after he was suspended by the Law Society, and just before he could be charged criminally for his actions, Adriaan Venter had ‘died’.
On the day of his ‘death’ numerous tales were spun regarding how he died. Initially, it was believed that Adriaan had been hijacked and was found decapitated. Then we were told that it was possible he had committed suicide. Finally, Adriaan’s parents came forward and told the community that he had died from a heart attack and no foul play was suspected.
Adriaan’s death certificate indicated that he had died of natural causes on July 25. His death certificate further indicates that he had died in Kwamashu, while the death certificate itself, was issued in Kwadukuza (Stanger). A young Vryheid professional, in seemingly good health, was reported to have been found dead in Kwamashu, yet enquiries made by the Vryheid Herald to the police stations that service the Kwamashu area revealed that not only was an inquest docket NOT opened, but there wasn’t even an entry about it in any of the stations’ Occurrence Books (OB).
Thereafter, a story was churned about how Adriaan had gone to the Law Society offices in Pietermaritzburg on the day, hadn’t been feeling well and decided to take an Uber to seek medical help… in Kwamashu? Disregarding all the medical facilities available in Pietermaritzburg itself? It was said that he suffered a fatal heart attack after he had climbed out of the Uber.
Adriaan’s body was identified by Rozanne Vosloo and then cremated. His body was not brought to Vryheid for a proper funeral, and his ashes never made it home either. Phone calls made by the Vryheid Herald to mortuaries, crematoriums and funeral homes in Durban showed no record of a Jan Adriaan Venter at all.
Guests at Adriaan’s memorial service in Vryheid described it as a bland affair in which his family had said nothing about their memories of him. Only friends and colleagues addressed the congregation at the church.
The Vryheid Herald later discovered that Adriaan had been acting suspiciously in the days that led up to his death. He had increased his insurance premiums with Liberty Life from about R2 000 a month to about R23 000 per month. He had also opened a bank account in Mauritius, and Rozanne Vosloo had begun making enquiries about leaving the country. Investigators from the Attorney’s Fidelity Fund revealed that Kwamashu was red-flagged as the place to go, when people attempted to fake their own deaths.
Liberty Group began its own investigation into the possibility that Adriaan may have faked his death, which eventually led to Adriaan’s arrest.
Divisional Director of Communications for Liberty, Nerina Bodasing, would only confirm that Adriaan was arrested and that an investigation was being conducted by police.
In an emotional interview, Gerrie Grove, the attorney who was tasked with winding up Adriaan’s estate and a man who considered himself a close friend to Adriaan, admitted to feeling shocked, furious and betrayed by what Adriaan has done.
“Adriaan and I were friends. We worked on some cases together and even went hunting together. I cried when I heard that he had died. I travelled to Vryheid for the memorial service and cried again when I saw his father. It never even crossed my mind that he could have done something so criminal. A doctor had declared him dead. His fiancé had identified the body. It was enough for me to believe he was gone,” said Mr Grove.
“Now, I have been informed by his younger brother that Adriaan was arrested in Durban. I am furious for the betrayal. I am an attorney who is well-respected in the legal fraternity. It is criminal for someone to do this and then he drags other people into it? For the past four hours, I have been calling people who have been involved with Adriaan to let them know what has happened. I am no longer the executor and I am glad he was caught. It means, to me, that the justice system still works. I will co-operate with the investigation and offer any assistance that I can,” he concluded.
Adriaan Venter’s former business partner, Abrie Killian, had this to say, “Every person under the constitution of the Republic of South Africa deserves the rights envisaged in the constitution. In as much as we might want to react emotionally, regarding everything surrounding the recent exploits of Mr Venter, he deserves to be tried by a competent court of his peers, and not on social media. The latter has become all too common these days. It is also alleged that several individuals have lost money entrusted to Mr Venter. If these allegations are true, I hope that the money is returned to them, to restore faith in our profession… A profession already under serious scrutiny.”
Family members of Adriaan Venter and Rozanne Vosloo were contacted by the Vryheid Herald. They declined to comment.
Estella Naicker / Vryheid Herald