A LIMPOPO clerk, who was initially arrested for stealing R40200 from papgeld funds at the Seshego maintenance court, has actually stolen more money than was initially thought.

Police investigations have revealed that Rebecca Sekgodiso stole a total of R497000 - papgeld meant for child maintenance.

Limpopo police spokesperson Superintendent Mohale Ramatseba said investigations by the police revealed that Sekgodiso had been working in cahoots with two other clerks in the same offices since 2002.

"Their plan was discovered after a series of complaints by the parents who went home empty-handed after going to the offices to collect the money for their children without any luck," Ramatseba said.

"This after Sekgodiso and her accomplices had told them that the money had not been deposited into the maintenance office's bank accounts.

"The women went home disillusioned and convinced that their husbands were irresponsible and not paying in the money as required.

"After a sizeable number of complaints by the children's mothers an internal investigation, backdated to June this year, was launched into the matter ."

Sekgodiso was positively linked to the fraudulent withdrawal of the money.

During her second appearance at the Seshego magistrate's court last week Tuesday, prosecutor Sebasa Ramothibedi argued that she should not be granted bail because investigations into her alleged crime were still under way.

The state also feared that she might tamper with the computers that contained vital information about the alleged crimes.

Ramatseba told Sowetan yesterday that the police were able to establish from the computers that more people were involved in the theft of the money.

It has become clear that much more money had been stolen since 2002.

About 70 other government officials appeared in various courts throughout the province after they were found to have been collecting child support grants and redirecting maintenance funds to their own personal bank accounts through fraudulent means.

Musina still leads other towns in the province in the prevalence of this kind of offence, with 34 cases having been recorded so far.

Other areas where this fraudulent practise is said to be especially prevalent includes Bolobedu, Seshego, Jane Furse, Ba-Phalaborwa, Botlokwa and Polokwane.

The three clerks will appear again in the court on January 15.