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Jail time for man who defrauded Free State maize farmers out of R18m

Phillipus Prinsloo Pretorius outside  court.

Phillipus Prinsloo Pretorius outside court.

PHOTO: Gallo Images/Volksblad/Mlungisi Louw

A man has been sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment for defrauding Free State farmers of more than R18 million after failing to pay them for thousands of tons of maize.

Phillippus Prinsloo Pretorius, 51, and his company Eco Grain CC, were sentenced in the Free State High Court in Bloemfontein on Tuesday.

The court heard that Pretorius bought maize from farmers in Bultfontein between October 2019 and January 2020. The agreement was that Pretorius would sell the maize to silos and then pay the farmers.

READ | Pulling the wool: Two arrested for allegedly defrauding Free State farmer out of sheep worth R5m

Pretorius took more than 4 000 tons of maize from the farmers, but the victims did not receive their money as agreed, said Hawks spokesperson, Captain Christopher Singo.

“As a result of non-payment, the victims then made enquiries at the entities where the maize was supposedly delivered, and they discovered that some of the maize was delivered under the accused’s name, as well as other entities unknown to the victims.

“As a result of these fraudulent activities, the victims were prejudiced and suffered a total loss of more than R18 million,” said Singo.

The Hawks investigated the matter and arrested Pretorius in February 2021.

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