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Official ran scams to feed gambling habit

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Durban - A former Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs employee with a compulsive gambling problem has pleaded guilty to various counts of fraud and corruption after scamming people out of more than R40 000 to fund his habit.

Isaac Naicker, 34, of Northdale in Pietermaritzburg, entered into a plea bargain with the State, and pleaded guilty at the city’s regional court on Thursday to three counts of corruption, one count of fraud and one count of theft by false pretences.

In terms of the plea agreement, Naicker was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment, wholly suspended for five years on condition that he was not convicted of a similar offence during the term of suspension.

Naicker must also pay back his victims the money that he stole from them.

In amplification of his plea, Naicker said that between January 2006 and October 2012, he was an employee of the department.

One of the charges of corruption relate to an incident in which Naicker misrepresented himself to Prudence Mthembu in September 2011.

Mthembu’s husband had died and Naicker indicated to Mthembu that her husband’s pension could not be processed due to a lack of documentation.

Naicker asked Mthembu to pay him R4 000 to facilitate the process by assisting her to obtain the relevant documentation from Home Affairs.

A month later, Naicker contacted Mthembu, informing her he had encountered a problem with Sars in processing the pension and requested that she deposit R3 000 into his account so that he could “overcome” the problem. He took a further R1 000 from Mthembu around November 2011.

In the second instance, Naicker informed another of his victims, Maritha Gumede, that due to a miscalculation in the processing of her pension, she had been overpaid R5 400.

He gave Gumede his bank account details, instructing her to deposit the money.

Another of Naicker’s victims, Musawenkosi Nxumalo, was conned out of R5 500 after Naicker told him his job was at risk and that for a fee, he would be able to arrange another job for him.

The most extravagant of Naicker’s illegal escapades took place between 2006 and 2012, when on different occasions, Naicker misrepresented himself to Xolisile Khumalo, telling her he could expedite her mother’s pension payout as well as arrange government employment for Khumalo.

He dreamt up various schemes, requesting money from Khumalo so that he could “arrange” a matric certificate for her so that she could apply for a messenger job at the department. He then informed her that the “manufacturer” of the false certificate had been arrested, and to source another manufacturer, he would need more money.

Naicker eventually scammed Khumalo out of R23 250.

He was arrested in October 2012 at the Umfolozi Casino, in Empangeni, when members of the organised crime unit conducted a sting operation in which Naicker was handed R3 800.

He was attending Gamblers Anonymous meetings and felt remorse, Naicker said.

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