Joburg produce market official arrested by Hawks for R5.5m scam

Finance officer nabbed for R5.5m veggie fraud scam

12 October 2021 - 11:16
By Gill Gifford
Some of the fruit that is traded at the People's Market in Johannesburg.
Image: Kgaugelo Masweneng, Some of the fruit that is traded at the People's Market in Johannesburg.

A senior financial controller at the Johannesburg fresh produce market has been arrested by the Hawks in connection with a multimillion-rand scam, while her accomplices appear to have fled overseas.

City of Joburg spokesperson Dudu Lushaba said the woman was apprehended on Monday afternoon, and police were on the trail of her accomplices, believed to be a work colleague and a friend. The woman will appear in the Johannesburg Commercial Crimes Court on Tuesday on charges of fraud.

She is alleged to have worked with a colleague who was a compliance accountant at the market, and was authorised to administer buyers’ guarantees.

“The guarantees were loaded into a buyer’s card belonging to a deceased person without the required supporting documents from the bank,” Lushaba explained.

The card was reactivated in October last year and loaded with R40,000 in guarantees. In March this year the guarantees were increased to R600,000 and then in July lifted again to R5.5m.

It is alleged that the pair worked with a third person who used the card to buy fruit and vegetables at the market, and then sold them off at discounted prices to various business owners.

“The three suspects then pocketed the proceeds from the sales,” said Lushaba, adding that the compliance accountant and the buyer are believed to have fled the country.

Johannesburg mayor Mpho Moerane commended the Hawks and the city’s Group Forensic and Investigation Service for the breakthrough.

“Corruption has no place in this administration and we will work tirelessly, and in collaboration with law enforcement agencies, to ensure that the residents of Johannesburg receive the quality services they deserve,” he said.

Anyone with information on fraud or corruption in Joburg can report it to the 24-hour tipoff hotline on 0800 002 587.

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