Pretoria – A former senior accountant at Impala Platinum (Implats) was convicted on Wednesday of fraud and of money laundering amounting to about R850 000.
The Specialised Commercial Crime Court sitting in Tlhabane sentenced Hlengiwe Masilela, 56, to five years’ imprisonment which was wholly suspended for five years.
The court took into consideration her state of health, as she is on a 24-hour oxygen support.
National Prosecuting Authority regional spokesperson Henry Mamothame said Masilela’s conviction stems from the offences she committed from December 15, 2010 to May 30, 2012 while she was employed at Implats as head of the trades department.
“Evidence led in court revealed that Masilela, given her responsibility to manage accounts and as a final approver of all transactions on the SAP Accounting System, manipulated the company by requesting vouchers at the Waterfall Mall in Rustenburg. The request was submitted with falsified signatures of accountants and managers from other shafts.
“The mall would subsequently issue invoices to which she would authorise with falsified signatures for payment of these vouchers and the only authentic signature would be hers as the final signatory. The invoices would later be submitted to the accounts payable staff for processing,” explained Mamothame.
Mamothame said Masilela collected the vouchers herself and in some instances arranged for them to be collected from the mall.
Further evidence indicated that these vouchers were utilised to purchase consumer items in various stores in the mall.
She was summoned to appear in court on September 7, 2020 and was out on a warning.
In aggravation of sentence, State prosecutor advocate Geo Nel argued that the accused manipulated her position to commit the crimes in a company that entrusted her with a responsibility to manage, but she instead fraudulently used her colleagues’ signatures in the process.
He further argued that the accused only stopped stealing because she got caught and pleaded not guilty to the offence. She also did not pay back the stolen money after receiving her pension payout.
Mamothame said the court agreed with the State and indicated that the offence was serious and that the accused showed no remorse.
“Before passing the sentence, the court also highlighted the need to consider that the offences were committed over 10 years ago and that Masilela requires special care due to her ill health,’’ he said.