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Johannesburg - Nine people, including eight Post Bank employees, were sentenced to 1 680 years combined for defrauding the bank of R6 million, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) said on Thursday.

“The South Gauteng High Court has on Wednesday, 24 June 2015, sentenced nine convicted fraudsters to an effective 1 680 years combined for defrauding the Post Bank, forgery and uttering, money laundering and stealing money from unsuspecting persons’ account as well as racketeering,” Hawks spokesman Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said.

He said ringleader and an enterprise owner Isaac Dithlakanyane, 40, was sentenced to an effective 50 years imprisonment for colluding with other eight Post Bank employees to open six fraudulent accounts and depositing fraudulent pension pay-outs and stolen cheques.

“Dithlakanyane stole an amount of R2.2 million from the Post Bank. He was convicted on 76 counts,” said Mulaudzi.

Mulaudzi said that the suspects were sentenced on each of their their convictions but the jail time would run concurrently.

Pinegowrie Post Office branch manager Thabang Motaung, 39, was convicted for re-issuing Post Bank debit cards for the targeted accounts and withdrawing an amount totaling R574 700 from those accounts and depositing the money into Dithlakanyane’s bank account. Motaung was sentenced to 28 years imprisonment.

Saxonworld Post Office Post Bank teller Holysnworth Mkhwane, 39, was sentenced to 28 years imprisonment for his role in withdrawing an amount of R304 450 from accounts targeted by the syndicate, said Mulaudzi.

“The branch manager of North Riding Post Office Sylvia Kedibone Mkhwane, 40, a sister to Holysnworth Mkhwane, was convicted on five counts and subsequently sentenced to 30 years behind bars for authorising the withdrawal and withdrawing a cash amount of R467 250 from targeted accounts,” said Mulaudzi.

“A Post Bank teller at Gardenview Post Office, Laura Kunene, 49, was found guilty on 12 counts of withdrawing an amount of R530 270 from unsuspecting victims’ accounts and depositing the money into Dithlakanyane’s bank account. For her role in the syndicate’s modus operandi she was sentenced to 28 years behind bars.”

Mulaudzi said 38-year-old Vuyokazi Mcence, a Post Bank teller at Randburg, was also found guilty on four counts of withdrawing R248 600 from the accounts targeted by the fraudsters. She was sentenced to 28 years imprisonment.

Post Bank teller at Alexandra Post Office, Jack Lesetja Kekana, 38, was convicted on 12 counts for furthering the common purpose of the enterprise by fraudulently withdrawing an amount of R532 550 from the victim’s accounts and he was ordered to spend 28 years in jail.

The branch manager at Hillbrow Post Office Karabo Louis Molefe, 40, was found guilty on 13 counts after he fraudulently opened two Post Bank accounts, collected identity copies of account holders, whose accounts had large amounts of money, thus identifying accounts to be targeted. He was also found to have withdrawn R945 769.34 from targeted accounts which he deposited into Dithlakanyane’s bank account.

“Thabo Bradley Makaneta, 49, played a part in the forgery of documents and was found guilty on 47 accounts. He stole an amount of R860 450 and was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment.”

Acting Head of the Hawks Major General Mthandazo Ntlemeza praised the investigating team for securing a historic sentencing in the Hawks’ history.

He said it had been a seven-year long intensive investigation that was spread across Gauteng, Free State and North West which had made it a mammoth task for the investigating team.

“This has never happened before in the history of the Hawks. This group was involved in a scam to make money from stealing from innocent people. They thought they could beat the system by continuing with their criminal activity,” he said in a statement.

“But an extensive investigation by Commercial Crime Unit detectives picked its way through the trail to uncover a criminal enterprise. I would like to reinforce that we were not alone and it’s worth noting the involvement of the Postbank Fraud Unit who played an integral part in the investigation. We are pleased with the outcome and sentence given to the syndicate members and we hope this shows that we take this type of crime very seriously and will endeavour to prosecute offenders and those who take advantage of their positions.”

Ntlemeza said it should send a stern warning to other fraudsters that their days were numbered.