The Specialised Commercial Crime Court sitting in Tlhabane convicted Hlengiwe Masilela (56), on 24 counts of fraud and 23 of money laundering committed at Impala Platinum Ltd (Implats), amounting to approximately R850 000. She was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment, which was wholly suspended for five years. The court took into consideration her state of health, as she is on 24-hour oxygen support.

Masilela’s conviction stems from the offences she committed from 15 December 2010 to 30 May 2012 while under the employment of Implats as Head of the Trades Department (senior accountant). 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. It is reported that 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 07 September 2020 and was out on a warning.

In aggravation of sentence, the state prosecutor Adv 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 used her colleagues’ fraudulent 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.

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.

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