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"Attorney" Cons Scores | Maren de Klerk

Article relating to fraud committed by Ben van Heerden, translated by Maren de Klerk
"Attorney" cons scores

For those of you who perhaps do not speak Afrikaans, I translate as follows …

A businessman who used to operate in Stellenbosch and Franschhoek has said that he was swindled out of thousands of Rands by an attorney whose license to practice had been revoked.

According to Rhys van Wyk, he had asked Ben van Heerden to represent him in a dispute with a landlord regarding the building where he had established his business.

"I had a business that had been operating for the past 15 years in Stellenbosch. When Covid 19 hit, we were naturally in trouble, struggling to pay our rent. The building's landlord had started writing ever more acrimonious letters to us and I was therefore looking for an attorney. Someone I knew here in Paarl recommended Ben van Heerden and I went to see him to establish what could be done about our rental contract. This all happened during July and August 2020. My mandate to him was that he should negotiate with the landlord so that we can continue operating our business. It seems now that he did absolutely nothing – all he did was take my money."

"There was a point where he led me to believe that a resolution had been reached. The landlord then evicted us, and I was subsequently sued."

van Wyk says that this all happened after van Heerden said to him that he had spoken to the landlord and negotiated a resolution.

"He told us what the settlement amount was and I subsequently then paid this money over to him, but it never reached the landlord. When next I heard, my assets had been seized because the landlord had proceeded with the lawsuit and no one had shown up at the Paarl magistrates court to represent me."

van Wyk first suspected foul play when the bailiff arrived at his home. He says he was surprised because he had already paid the settlement amount.

Shortly thereafter, van Wyk discovered that van Heerden had long since been disbarred.

This was confirmed by the Legal Professionals Council communications officer, Kabelo Letebele. Letebele says van Heerden's name was officially scrapped from the roll on 17 November 2022, primarily due to his contempt for the order of disbarment that was pending against them. According to another source in the council it is suspected that van Heerden is currently abroad, seeing as he has not been able to be reached with regards to related investigations and hearings, and has failed to make appearances in court.

"The amount that I paid over to him amounts to almost R300 000. This includes legal fees and the settlement amount. For some unknown reason, our rental payments had to go through his bank account. I am sure he has dozens of other victims, but the good news in my case is that, through threats and appealing to his sympathies, I was able to recover all the funds."

van Wyk says he knows of many other victims and even a woman who is abroad who asked van Heerden to settle her late father's estate here in South Africa.

"He had studied law and was at some point a practising attorney, but he was disbarred. It seems as if he sometimes operates as a financial adviser currently, and sometimes he lets people believe he is still an attorney, but he is a career conman. He destroyed my business dealings. I had to shut my doors."

"Twelve people lost their jobs in the process because a problem and also crept in at the Franschhoek business and I had to close it down as well. The money I paid to him, the damage he did, runs in the millions of Rands."

van Wyk has, in the meantime, lodged a complaint against van Heerden with the police for falsely identifying himself as an attorney.

* There is no connection between van Heerden and any Paarl law firms.

~ Maren de Klerk


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