Johannesburg – Susan van Aswegen, the wife of attorney and businessman Henk Gerhandus van Aswegen from Melkbosstrand in Cape Town, claims the fraud matter against her husband has been “withdrawn”.
Back in August 2021, The Bulrushes published a story about how the 55-year-old Van Aswegen was arrested and brought before the court in Limpopo accused of fraud involving more than R1 million.
RELATED: Cape Town Attorney Van Aswegen Behind Bars – The Bulrushes
Van Aswegen appeared before the Polokwane Magistrate’s Court on charges of fraud, forgery, and uttering.
It was alleged that GP Smith Letting Close Corporation (CC) went into a joint venture with Van Aswegen Property Developers CC.
Later, a dispute arose between the two parties, and the matter was taken into arbitration.
During the arbitration, Van Aswegen allegedly submitted a false invoice for payment of R1 211 724.76 for the construction that was taking place.
It was subsequently discovered by the South African Revenue Service (SARS) that the invoice was fraudulent.
However, last week Susan claimed: “On 20 February 2023 the criminal case was provisionally withdrawn as there still was no proof of any finding by SARS, which Capt. Els have been endeavouring to produce since 2017”.
The attorney’s wife has moved to clear his name, by reporting The Bulrushes to the Press Council to demand that the publication carry a follow-up story, saying the fraud matter against her attorney husband, Van Aswegen, has been withdrawn.
In a letter from the Press Council, dated 15 May 2023, Fanie Groenewald brought the matter to the attention of The Bulrushes.
Even though the online publication founded by veteran editor Moses Mudzwiti is not a member of the Press Council, The Bulrushes indulged the entity.
Susan was very upset, and she wanted the Press Council to act against The Bulrushes for reporting on her husband’s fraud matter and not reporting that the matter had later been “withdrawn”.
Groenewald said: “I have declined to accept Mr. Van Aswegen’s complaint due to the lateness of the lodging (a year-and-a-half after the article was published) – and as it was a court report, based on a press release of the NPA [National Prosecuting Authority]”.
Groenewald added: “However, it is the generally accepted practice that once a publication reports on a court case it will also report on the outcome.
“Although the case has now only been provisionally withdrawn for further investigation, it does seem (according to the information supplied by Van Aswegen – please see attached) that the prosecution is going nowhere. Van Aswegen has indicated that he would be suing for unlawful arrest and prosecution.”
Groenewald added “I have thus undertaken to bring this matter to your attention for a possible follow-up article, with a link to the article of 2021.”
Commenting on the matter Mudzwiti said: “We have carefully perused the documents and the letter from the Press Council and are unable to establish any inaccuracy in The Bulrushes report.”
Mudzwiti added: “Considering the attorney concerned was accused of submitting a false invoice for payment of R1 211 724.76 for the construction that was taking place, the documents submitted by his wife Susan claiming the matter had been withdrawn do not look authentic”.
The Bulrushes has since asked the Press Council to produce proof that the matter has been withdrawn.
Responding to The Bulrushes, the Press Council said: “When I had asked the Van Aswegens earlier for proof of the provisional withdrawal, they forwarded a ‘Court file’ document”,
Documents supplied include:
Groenewald said: “You will note, in the first page of the document, an unstamped charge sheet with the inscription: ’20/02/2023 Matter is provisionally withdrawn DG P P [??] pending further investigation’.
“I have not established the authenticity of the document.”
Concluding the matter, Mudzwiti said: “The Bulrushes will not be bullied into disregarding the NPA as a legal authority in South Africa.
“We will not report that the fraud matter against Attorney Van Aswegen has been withdrawn simply because his wife Susan said so. We demand genuine proof first.”