Scammed: Gauteng mom lost 13kg in two weeks after boyfriend vanished with her R2.8 million pension

Scammed: Gauteng mom lost 13kg in two weeks after boyfriend vanished with her R2.8 million pension

A Gauteng mother in her 50s is ruing the day she met the man who became her lover for about a year, before he disappeared with her pension lump sum of R2.8 million, leaving her and her two sons without enough to eat.

Scammed: Gauteng mom lost 13kg in two weeks after boyfriend vanished with her R2.8 million pension 1

In an interview with IOL, Nothando, the mother whose identity is withheld to protect her from victimisation, opened a case at Pretoria North SA Police Service (SAPS), which has been confirmed by Gauteng police.

The woman in her 50s met the charming man who introduced himself as Henry Mugisha. In her mind, it was a chance meeting after Mugisha came to her workplace — a public school in Gauteng in January 2023. He insisted he was looking for a place for his son, but in hindsight, Nothando believes it was all an act.

During the year they dated – from January 2023 until January 2024 when she realised that she has been scammed — Nothando never got to meet or see the purported son.

As the love blossomed, Mugisha soon dangled an idea of undertaking a business venture and Nothando swallowed the idea, hook line and sinker.

Since 1994, Nothando had worked in the education sector for 30 years, and when she met Mugisha, she was working as a school principal at a government school in Gauteng.

Scammed: Gauteng mom lost 13kg in two weeks after boyfriend vanished with her R2.8 million pension 2

“I was in charge of admissions at the school, and I handled his issue when he arrived at our school. Unfortunately, we had no immediate space but requested him to check with me after a day or two,” Nothando said.

“Unfortunately or fortunately for him, our landlines at the school were not working so I gave him my work cell number so that he could call me to check, instead of driving all the way to come to the school,” she recounted in an interview with IOL.

So, after he couldn’t secure space for the boy, he started calling me, maybe after a week or so. At was at this stage that he started showing interest in me personally.”

In hindsight, Nothando believes Mugisha was doing all the right things to sweep her off her feet, blinding her from the ongoing scam in the name of love.

“He asked me for a date and I refused. He did not give up. He was so polite that he would ask me for permission if he could call me. He would text morning, lunch and before bedtime. He had a very gentle, soft, kind voice, and with infectious laughter. He was caring about me and my sons,” she said.

The first date was on March 12, 2023, at Baobab restaurant, Wonderboom Junction in Pretoria.

“A beautiful time we had. When I left, he ensured we bought take-aways for my boys. In fact, this he did always after we were out on dates. When I was at home, he would enquire about my sons’ wellbeing,” said Nothando.

“What endeared me more to him was when he declared that he was not wealthy and did not have much. In fact, he was driving an old Volkswagen Polo Vivo, which at times would break down and be taken to street mechanics,” she said.

“Anyway, I was attracted by his demeanour. He was gentle, kind and soft spoken. On our dates, he would pay for everything. At one point, we attended the public viewing of rugby final, we went to Bebe Winans concert at SunBet Arena etc. So, I can say, nothing was screaming ‘scam’. To everyone, we’re a normal couple,” Nothando told IOL.

As the relationship strengthened, the unsuspecting woman was persuaded to resign from her work in government, to get her pension lump sum, which would ostensibly be invested into a business venture.

Part of the scam involved Nothando having to withdraw her pension lump sum, so that it can be taken to the “ancestors” for a blessing.

Mugisha undertook to also raise his millions to invest in the business venture.

Nothando proposed that the couple venture into the business of student accommodation which is booming across Gauteng, and Mugisha was open to the idea. The couple agreed to pool their funds, with Mugisha actually promising to bring in more money than the almost R3 million Nothando had brought.

In January this year, Mugisha urged Nothando to visit her rural home to seek ancestral blessings. Then, he vanished.

“Throughout the weekend till Tuesday when I returned we never spoke but it was no red flag for me because he was at the ‘mountains’ too, supposedly doing his own rituals. So, after dropping my boys home when I returned to Gauteng, I drove to his place hoping to find him home. It was around 5.30pm and the house lights were not on and that was strange,” she said.

“I told myself he was out. I called out his name, knocked on the gate with a stone but no response. Around 7.30pm, it was now dark and I decided to drive back to my home. An uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach was making me tremble but I constantly told myself that he was just out.”

The whole night on January 24, Nothando was frantically trying to call Mugisha but his phone was going to voicemail.

She also tried his so-called brother as well, without success.

“In the morning I tried again and nothing. That was when my mind started realising what might be happening. I had a sick feeling in my stomach and couldn’t sleep that night. My mind started adding up all financial responsibilities I had. But what made me nauseated was my family and what would say to them, my two beloved boys, how were we going to survive?” she recounted.

“I went online and researched about mental health and depression. I thought if I committed suicide at least they will find out about my horrible mistake when I’m not there. Anyway, I locked myself in my bedroom and didn’t go out, talk or chat or engage anyone. This was first week of school re-opening in 2024.

“We moved from living with a full refrigerator and loaded pantry to having only basic food to eat. I started to snap at my sons when they asked for food or wasted any. This, they found awkward and strange. I stayed like that for two weeks and moved from 73 kilograms to 60 kilograms in weight loss,” said said.

Nothando said instead of enjoying her retirement, spending her pension money, the heartless man left her stranded.

“Here I was, miserable, contemplating suicide, and lost. I could not eat or drink anything. My sons asked me why I was not going to work and I just told them I was on leave,” she recounted.

Despite her horrific experience, Nothando shared some advice for those who are in love relationships, or contemplating getting into a romantic affairs.

“Do not be afraid to fall in love, but be vigilant. Although one cannot fully know a person, just be wary of someone who confesses being in love with you too soon and wanting to introduce his/her family to you,” she said.

“Love is a beautiful thing but can also cause immense pain if one meets the wrong person. Fall in love but with your eyes wide open. This is very important.”

Nothando said she hired a private investigator as she tried to track Mugisha down, but without much success. She said he remains active on social media platforms, and even showed off a luxurious Mercedes Benz after he disappeared from her.

“Two weeks after he scammed me, he posted a new Merc on his TikTok page: pemba233.”

IOL approached the SAPS in Gauteng, and after looking into the case, Lieutenant Colonel Mavela Masondo confirmed an investigation was under way.

“Police can confirm that a case of theft has been opened at Pretoria North police station. Investigation is under way, and no arrests have been made yet,” said Masondo.

Without mentioning any name, police believe the man in the pictures could assist in the ongoing investigation. Community members who can identify the man are also encouraged to notify the nearest police station.

However, Nothando argues that police should act against a South African woman who opened a bank account on behalf of Mugisha.

“She is his accomplice. She is walking free. I deposited my money into her ABSA bank account. The account is in her name. If I, on my own, can trace the owner of the bank account, and she does confess that she opened that bank account for her foreign boyfriend, then how come the police cannot do much more? It shows that they are not interested in doing their job,” Nothando hit out.

Last week, in this ongoing series IOL published the story of Joburg woman Jabu Nxumalo who was swindled out of R500,000 by another Ugandan man Joseph Ssekasi. The two hooked up on Tinder, where Ssekasi called himself Deron Mundari.

In Jabu’s case, she gave consent for her name and picture to be published.

Police in Gauteng have also requested community members to notify them if they identify Mundari as police require his assistance in the ongoing investigation.