Businessman’s other staff are all the victims

2015-07-08 09:34
Kay Makan.

Kay Makan. (File)

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FORMER Pietermaritzburg electronics businessman Kay Makan says Delene Singh, the woman partially responsible for the collapse of his electronics empire, “made a mistake”.

Makan, diagnosed with rare embryonic cancer, said yesterday he is hopeful of a “fitting” decision when Singh is sentenced later this month.

“She played the major role in the closing down of all our stores, but also the economy catches up with you. I have followed similar cases in court and I have noticed that the law does not allow someone to steal from another person and get away with it.”

Makan’s electronics business interests began in 1973 when he partnered with Govan Mani and opened a store downtown in Church Street. Years later, in 1991, he ventured on his own and opened Kay Makan Electronics in then Commercial Road (Chief Albert Luthuli Road).

“From there, business just boomed. We took off and opened a store in Victoria Road in 1993, and the two other stores, in Umhlanga and Liberty Midlands Mall, followed. Business was flying, but some things have to end,” he said.

Makan is known for his philanthropy and continuous generous sponsorship of community projects in and around Pietermaritzburg. In 1991, he assumed the role of chairperson of the Community Chest. It was a position he held for 11 years, the second-longest serving chair of the organisation. In the same year, Makan introduced the annual Kay Makan-Community Chest Race Day. Makan and his business had also become well known in the city for their bread donations.

Outside the Chest, his commitment to community service was recognised in several awards over the years: in 1996, he was awarded the Golden Peacock by the Indian Academy of South Africa for his “contribution to uplifting the disadvantaged, leadership to the business world, and his fight for justice and equality”, and in 2002 he received a Community Service Award from the Rotary Club of Pietermaritzburg.

On Monday, former Kay Makan accounts clerk Singh (33) pleaded guilty to stealing over R1 million from the business since 2008. Singh said she would steal signed blank cheques, fill out the details on the cheque and then deposit it into her personal bank account. It was further stated that most of the money stolen was gambled away at a local casino.

“The theft impacted the cash flow to such an extent that I had to negotiate with senior employees to reduce their salaries,” said Makan in his victim impact statement to the court. He said more than 70 staff, some working there for nearly 25 years, were retrenched, and some are still unemployed while others have taken on “menial jobs to make ends meet”.

Singh has already paid R100 000 to Makan in “an arrangement” between her father and her former employer. However, the payments stopped when Makan allegedly asked for the balance of the money to be paid in three months, which Singh said was “beyond our means”.

Singh will be sentenced in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court on July 30. The state has argued that although Singh has three young children, the victims in this case are the Kay Makan employees with families who are now without jobs.

Commenting on The Witness Facebook page yesterday, Chris Black wrote, “So sad, particularly as the victim is a wonderful man who has contributed so much to PMB and charitable causes over many years.”

Wesley Gold wrote that he was “disgusted to hear this”. “Kay Makan is such a ­community-driven man and PMB’s rags to riches story.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  business

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