Travel company was liquidated, court hears

Pretoria - The company at the centre of a travel scam and the death of a Pretoria policeman was liquidated, the Pretoria North Magistrate's Court heard on Monday.

"When accused one discovered there were serious problems with the CC [close corporation], she voluntarily liquidated it on 27 June," said Fred Klein, for the accused.

He told the court that Renette Wright left her employment of nine years with Premiere Foods to focus on the company, Zambezi Tours and Safari.

"She left because she wanted to get involved and see what the problems facing the CC were," said Klein.

He explained that Wright's life was in Pretoria and that her 16-year-old was attending school in the city.

Wright appeared with Salome Klopper, while Wright's husband Hendrick Jacobus Wright was not present as he was in hospital. The two women were applying for bail.

The three are accused of defrauding Adriaan Petrus Johnson of R26 000.

Johnson allegedly paid the money to the Wrights' company, which was selling holiday packages.

Investigating officer Constable John Ramollo told the court the modus operandi of the business was to cancel trips a week before the departure date, with clients never getting their refunds.

Klopper was said to be a receptionist and secretary. They were arrested on 24 July in Sinoville, Pretoria.

A police officer, Warrant Officer Ben Strydom, 47, was shot dead during a raid at their house while trying to arrest the husband.

According to police, when Hendrick Wright saw the officers, he tried to escape through another door of the house but Strydom caught him.

He allegedly drew a firearm and shot the policeman before fleeing. While travelling on the Moloto Road, he stopped his car and shot and wounded himself.

Flight risk

Ramollo said the accused mostly defrauded pensioners. He told the court that the accused should not be granted bail as they were a flight risk.

He said the Wrights planned to skip the country and passports were discovered in a car when they were arrested.

"Accused one has a passport and she was leaving the country. She has a business in Namibia. If she is granted bail, she could leave and we won't be able to find her," said Ramollo.

Klein, however, challenged that notion. During his cross-examination of Ramollo, Klein said Renette Wright had no interests in Namibia.

"Accused one does not have any assets or interest in Namibia. They don't have offices there and they have no business there," said Klein.

He said the company hired a train that did not belong to them and that before the company was faced with financial troubles, they had conducted several successful trips to Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and other neighbouring countries.

"Are you aware that before the troubles started there were other successful ones that were attended by among others people from Jacaranda FM?" he asked.

Due to financial troubles, two tours were cancelled. "One to Zimbabwe and Namibia and the clients were informed," he said.