Pietermaritzburg - A former KZN government employee, Patricia Nokwazi Chuli, 30, and local businessman, Mex Dhladhla, made a brief appearance in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrates Court on Tuesday charged with stealing R7.5 million from the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta).

Dressed smartly, the two were in and out of the dock within minutes as their case was adjourned to February 26 for further investigation.

Chuli had been sought by police following her resignation and disappearance on November 26 last year.

She was subsequently arrested in late December at Dhladhla’s home.

The State alleges that Chuli, a junior official in the finance division at Cogta, was responsible for diverting money that was supposed to fund the building of a community centre in Bulwer, to one of Dhladhla’s business accounts, Imvusa Trading.

It is said that the money was withdrawn from the account thereafter, and had also not been found.

It is alleged that Chuli “managed to bypass an already complex biometrics procedure for settling government invoices”.

Both Chuli and Dhladhla are on R50 000 bail and have yet to enter pleas.