12/08/04 Ekurhuleni Mayor, Duma Nkosi, Minister Sydney Mufamadi(dept of Provincial and Local Government) and minister Jeff Radebe (Dept of transport) with the cheque given to Ekurhuleni Metro Council during the launch of the Municipal Infrastructure Programme. Pic:Boxer Ngwenya

Durban - A couple of documents inadvertently left behind in her desk drawer after she resigned from her job resulted in a young Durban mother standing in the dock of a court on Tuesday, charged with 383 counts of fraud involving about R1.4 million.

Desire Thompson, 31, of Seaview, was granted bail of R10 000 during her brief appearance.

She was ordered to come back to court on August 15 for possible “plea bargain negotiations”.

Prosecutor Shayna Naidoo told the court that Thompson, who has an eight-year-old son, had been employed as an accountant. She had made unauthorised payments into her own bank account. “There is a strong possibility she will plead guilty,” Naidoo said.

More details about her alleged crimes are revealed in a successful urgent Durban High Court application brought by her former employer, South Coast Car Radio and Airconditioning, to attach her house as security for the money she allegedly stole.

Director Shaun Delport said Thompson had been employed as the company accountant from August 2007 until April this year, when she resigned.

It was her job to manage the payroll, pay salaries, keep proper financial records, and reconcile bank statements.

He said Thompson would collect clock cards and capture them on to the payroll system and draw up a summary of amounts to be deducted from the business bank account for authorisation by management.

After she left the company on April 16, during a “tidy-up” of her workspace his attention was drawn to certain documents left behind in her drawer, including interim statements on her cheque account and documents about her e-plan account.

“When I perused them, I noticed regular deposits had been made from the company account into her account in the amount of about R8 000 a week,” he said.

He did an “informal audit” and discovered that she had processed payments for ghost employees, misappropriating substantial sums of money.

He then called in auditors, who confirmed that at least R1.1m had been taken.

Judge Piet Koen granted the order attaching the house.

However, The Mercury has been reliably informed that the house is bonded and the money has been spent. It was stated in court on Tuesday that Thompson was now living with relatives.

Meanwhile, a Durban bookkeeper has pleaded guilty in the Commercial Crime Court to defrauding two companies of R1.6m. - The Mercury