Women plead guilty to R700K theft

2012-04-20 07:07

A former office manager and a clerk pleaded guilty to theft amounting to R700 000 from their former employer in the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court.

Marlene Septoe pleaded guilty yesterday to 144 counts of theft, while Soraya Hassiem pleaded guilty to 123.

Septoe told the court that, as office manager of Bellini Sanitaryware, she engaged Hassiem as a clerk four years ago, and that they became “close friends”.

Both had financial problems and Hassiem had approached Septoe with “an idea” to solve their problems.

Septoe said she was divorced, in arrears with her bond repayments and faced foreclosure. Hassiem also had unsettled debt.

Hassiem, who was in the process of selling her home, suggested that they steal money from the company and repay it from the proceeds of the sale of her house.

As the company sold only to vendors, the plan was to secretly make the commodities available to the public.

Hassiem would issue fake invoices bearing Septoe’s bank account details and the proceeds would later be divided equally between them.

Constant problems with the company’s computer system and slack control measures made it possible for Hassiem to manipulate the system “without detection”, Septoe said.

The women were expected to be sentenced today.

Defence attorneys Vincent van Graan and Haley Lawrence suggested house arrest, coupled with suspended prison sentences for both.

Prosecutor Jannie Knipe called for prison sentences as both had abused positions of trust.

Lawrence said the management of Bellini Sanitaryware had shown concern for Septoe, and often telephoned to ask how she was.

“That may have been to decide the best way forward to recover the R700 000 loss,” magistrate Amrith Chabillal said.

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