Appeals Court reduces woman’s 15-year sentence for theft of R1.4m from employer

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Published Sep 27, 2023


The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) has reduced a 15-year sentence imposed on a woman who stole over R1.4 million from her employer together with her now ex-husband.

Natasha Tanya Evans was employed as a bookkeeper and paymaster by Silver Dove Import and Export CC.

She stole the money between August 2014 and August 2015.

Evans authorised and made fictitious payments to herself and former husband, Eduan Gert Botha.

She transferred over R290,000 directly into Botha’s bank account and the balance into her personal bank account.

The court heard that Botha bought motorcycle and a Mercedes-Benz with the money.

They were charged with 60 counts of fraud, alternatively theft, read with the minimum sentence legislation.

The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria sentenced Botha to five years’ imprisonment, with a further two years’ imprisonment suspended for five years on condition he is not convicted of fraud, attempted fraud, theft or attempted theft, during the period of suspension.

Evans was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment. The court found no substantial and compelling circumstances in mitigation of sentence.

In her appeal, she said that the court failed to consider numerous factors including that she was a first time offender and was a primary caregiver to her three teenage children from her first marriage.

She also repaid R470,000 and the motorcycle, and Mercedes-Benz were forfeited to her former employer.

She also offered to pay the balance of the stolen money, which was refused by her former employer.

At the time of her arrest, she was working as a human resource assistant in another company.

The SCA questioned whether the prescribed minimum sentence was applied. Central to this, was whether the counts should be taken cumulatively or individually for purposes of sentence.

The SCA found that from the money Evans stole, each transaction did not exceed R500,000 and said that the prescribed minimum sentence did not find application in this case.

Amounts which were stolen ranged between R6,520 to R50,000.

The SCA found further that the application of the prescribed minimum sentence was a material misdirection.

“The sentence imposed by the trial court was set aside and replaced with a period of eight years’ imprisonment, of which five years was suspended,’’ read the judgment.