Fuel theft sentence ‘too low’

2015-06-04 08:19
Stolen fuel is drained from a municipal vehicle into containers via a hose.

Stolen fuel is drained from a municipal vehicle into containers via a hose. (Supplied)

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Pietermaritzburg - The Msunduzi Municipality expressed disappointment over the sentence imposed on a former employee, Phiwokuhle “Hopewell” Magubane, 51, who admitted stealing R100 000 worth of fuel from the municipality.

However, municipal spokesperson Madeleine Jackson-Plaatjies said while the sentence — a fine of R12 000 (or 12 months’ imprisonment), plus a suspended sentence of two years imprisonment — might not be what the municipality wanted, it would serve as a deterrent to other municipal employees.

“It shows that the results of forensic investigations can now go to the courts for people to account for their deeds. We do, however, respect the decision of the court as an independent adjudicator in civil and criminal matters,” she added.

Magubane admitted that he stole fuel and sold it while employed by the municipality between May and August last year.

Jackson-Plaatjies added that a “lack of understanding” by a court official led the court to believe petrol cards were involved. The true position is that the municipality has its own bowsers where vehicles refuel and fuel attendants record the transaction on a fuel slip.

She said Magubane had been “so determined” that he even came in during his annual leave to commit some of his offences and lied to cover up his actions.

“He even involved his wife and his children or grandchildren to assist him in the commission of some of the offences and there are video recordings of March 23, 2014 and July 4, 2014 that bear testimony to that fact,” said Jackson-Plaatjies.

She said the municipality lost R5.1 million through 6 092 transactions in which fuel was stolen between July 2013 and June 2014.

Since then stringent controls have been put in place, including the involvement of the internal audit unit on daily operations in order to identify and investigate any problems. An anti-theft system has also been installed in bowsers, which was implemented last month.

Jackson-Plaatjies said Magubane had resigned immediately after his arrest.

Read more on:    msunduzi municipality  |  pietermaritzburg  |  crime

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