The Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court has sentenced Samantha Michelle Taggart (38) to 6 years direct imprisonment, for 17 counts of fraud worth more than R950 000.

Taggert was employed as a financial manager at Vansan SA CC, a company that sells water pumps, from October 2016 until October 2017 when she resigned. Her duties included receiving all electronic and cash payments for the company, making cash and electronic payments to suppliers as well as make Pay As You Earn ( PAYE) and VAT payments to SARS.
However, instead of making those payments, for a period of 6 months from February to July 2017 Taggert transferred money meant for suppliers and SARS to her own personal bank account. This was discovered when a supplier enquired about their payment and Taggert was questioned by the company director. After being questioned Taggert resigned from her job.

When the director went to Taggert’s house to further enquire about the missing money, she returned R120 000 that was still in the company money seal bag. A few weeks later, her father paid back R500 000 to the company.

In court, she pleaded guilty to all the charges and asked the court to impose a non-custodial sentence because she was remorseful and paid back some of the money. However, the state argued that Taggert only pleaded guilty because the state had overwhelming evidence against her. The prosecutor, Advocate Malisela Abram Machitela, further told the court that Taggert was in a position of trust, but she chose to betray that trust. As a result, the company suffered as some of its employees had to be retrenched. Taggert only committed the offences because of greed, he added. Therefore, he asked the court to impose a sentence of direct imprisonment
In his sentence, Magistrate Ignatius de Preez agreed with the state that Taggert was not remorseful – she only stopped her thievery not because of her guilt but because she was caught. Taggert only pleaded guilty because she did not have defense for the charges. Therefore, the court found that the offences which Taggert stood convicted of were too serious for the imposition of a fine, and therefore a sentence of direct imprisonment was the only appropriate punishment that fits the crime.

The NPA welcomes the sentence.

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