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Three employees loot over R3m

‘Municipal workers stole state funds out of greed’

Three municipality employees have been found guilty of theft of municipal funds amounting to more than R3m of taxpayers’ money and the prosecution has asked for lengthy sentences.
Three municipality employees have been found guilty of theft of municipal funds amounting to more than R3m of taxpayers’ money and the prosecution has asked for lengthy sentences.
Image: PROMISE MARUPENG

The Specialised Commercial Crimes Court sitting in the Palm Ridge magistrate's court yesterday heard how three Rand West municipal workers stole over R3m in state funds "out of absolute greed without remorse".

This came out when Jackie Tshabalala, 47, Letitia Mafuta, 51, and Anna Ndangane, 47, were found guilty on 16 counts of theft for transferring money from the municipality's bank account into their own personal accounts more that 16 times between 2017 and 2018.

In aggravation of sentence yesterday, state prosecutor Frans Mhlongo said the court found no compelling and circumstantial evidence that forced the court not to give the three lengthy sentences and setting an example.

"The three embezzled and abused public funds because it has become a norm for government officials and workers to feel entitlement to the state's purse," said Mhlongo.

"Accused number one [Tshabalala] and two [Mafuta] in the matter took the employer to the bargaining council after they were suspended and taken to a disciplinary hearing. Accuse number two further went to tell her seniors in the counsel that she thought the money was mana from heaven. While accused number three  [Ndanga], remained as quiet as a grave when she was an accomplice to the theft and carried on with her duties like nothing happened."  

Mhlongo said Tshabalala, who was working in the municipality's finance department, took advantage of the trust of his employer and the public.

He said the money they took was meant for the poor who were dependent on government funds and services. 

"Unlike many who have had to join the unemployment queue, the accused were equally permanently employed when they looted the funds. There is no excuse for their greediness."

Mhlongo said the theft of state funds undermines governance. "It sadly also delays development of  government projects and maintenance of roads, sanitation infrastructure, social services affecting all of us and directly the poor.

"The municipality had to put projects on hold because funds were stolen. Not only that, but they had to even adjust their budget."

Magistrate Emmanuel Makgampa postponed the case to April 6.

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