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Cape Town -  A bookkeeper was jailed for five years on Thursday, for embezzling the South African Responsible Gambling Foundation to the tune of R500 764.

Lucille Felicity Booth, 54, a mother of two, pleaded guilty to 39 counts of fraud, when she appeared in the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court, before magistrate Sabrina Sonnenberg.

The case took the form of a plea-bargain, negotiated by legal aid lawyer Harley Cloete, with prosecutor Denzyl Combrink.

She was engaged by the foundation as its bookkeeper, and held the post for five years before she was found out and dismissed.

Her duties included the payment of creditors' and third party invoices, and the control of the cashbook and petty cash.

According to court papers, she manipulated the SARGF’s electronic system, and made numerous unauthorised requests for payments totalling R500,764, which she channelled into her own personal bank account.

The embezzlement was uncovered during an external audit.

Booth in fact qualified for a prescribed sentence of 15 years jail, for fraud involving in excess of R500,000, but the prosecutor and defence agreed that there were substantial and compelling reasons to deviate from such a severe sentence and to impose one that was less severe.

According to court papers, she co-operated fully with the police in their investigation, and this, among other factors, got her off the hook.