Jail time: Murder vs Property crimes

This week in our wrap of property news that's garnered newspaper headlines: crime has reared its ugly head among estate agents, property investors.

You'll do less time for murder. Velvet-tongued jailbird Maurice de Grandhomme was sentenced to 30 years for conning about R2m out of wannabee golf estate investors. He met his victims on a driving range at Pollsmoor Prison while he was still serving time for fraud, nogal.

That intriguing news snippet was in the Cape Times on Friday where on the same page we were told that Niel Philips, 39, who murdered the mother of his daughter, was finally apprehended a decade later.

Philips' sentence was a more modest 24 years in jail for shooting the young woman execution-style, even though he was also a prime suspect in the shooting of a community police forum member whose body was close to the scene of that murder.

Passing sentence in the killing of 20-year-old Lucille Christians, Judge Burton Fourie said: "The cruel and calculating way in which this mother was killed requires a long prison sentence."

Wynberg regional magistrate Bruce Langa, meanwhile, had similar thoughts about De Grandhomme. "The circumstances of the case clamour for the sternest possible sentence," he said.

Tabloid Tuesday can't help feeling that De Grandhomme's victims got what they were coming to them, though. After all, they met De Grandhomme "while he was stationed at the prison's golf driving range".

Langa reckoned De Grandhomme "was undoubtedly a person of above average intelligence, gifted with a very brilliant mind". But even he said he "could not comprehend how educated people could allow themselves to be deceived by a convict still serving his sentence".

Some of De Grandhomme's victims - who included a chartered accountant and a retired engineer - had been "embarrassed" to admit being tricked by the prisoner, said the Sapa report.

No kidding. When you hand over sums in the region of R700 000-plus on a prison driving range to a convicted criminal surely alarm bells must ring in your head.

Crooks target estate agents. Beware of not scrutinising eager buyers, was the message to property sellers in another Cape Times report. Money-launderers are buying property - loads of it - as a way to get their money into the system undetected by the authorities, the Institute of Security Studies warns.

Apparently some estate agents are on to the plot, with about 50 reporting "suspicious transactions" to the Financial Intelligence Centre so far.

Those property brokers who haven't yet cottoned on to the fact that cash property deals are suspicious are being warned that they can have their fidelity fund certificates withdrawn if they do not do their bit in apprehending money-launderers.

Many of these buyers, we're told, are drug traffickers and part of international crime syndicates. Move over MacGyver! Who said estate agency work is a laid-back job for bored housewives?

Article by: www.realestateweb.co.za