Theft by accounts clerk behind Kay Makan stores’ final closure

2015-07-07 09:37
Delene Singh was charged with theft after she stole more than R1 million, which resulted in the downfall of Kay Makan Electronics.

Delene Singh was charged with theft after she stole more than R1 million, which resulted in the downfall of Kay Makan Electronics. (Facebook)

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THE downfall of one of Pietermaritzburg’s household business names, Kay Makan Electronics, was allegedly caused by an employee who stole more than R1 million in three years.

Northdale resident Delene Singh (33) yesterday pleaded guilty in the ­Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court to stealing blank signed cheques from electronics boss Kanthylal (Kay) Makan.

Singh was employed as an accounts clerk by the business at the time.

“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.

Makan, who is diagnosed with ­embryonic cancer, made further cuts by shutting down two stores and ­retrenching staff in 2012. The large ­electronics company could not survive the major blow, since no insurance cover was taken “as it is too expensive”.

“My health suffered and I had to take time off to rest. The entire episode ­emotionally drained me. Finally, we had to call it a day and shut down the last two stores and retrench the remaining 25 staff members. The final blow was devastating and stressful,” said Makan.

In her plea to the court, Singh said the theft started during the course of 2008, a few months into her ­employment at the company. She alleges that when she was caught stealing by her financial manager, Shannilroy Baliram Batchu, he did not report her to Makan on condition she continued stealing and shared the money with him.

“Mr Batchu then confronted me and gave me a choice as to whether or not he would expose my theft to my employer, or alternatively continue to steal cheques and pay him a portion of the value of the stolen cheques,” Singh said in her statement. However, Batchu was never charged as there “was no paper trail to him” and Singh alleges she always handed over cash to him.

“Once I removed a cheque I would then fill out the details on the cheque and then deposit same into my personal bank account.

“The total value of the cheques which were stolen by myself was the sum of R1 031 47,55. I have admitted to all of the elements of the offence which I have been charged with, and consequently believe that I am indeed guilty as charged,” she said in her statement.

Singh’s theft was eventually exposed by Batchu when she was on maternity leave in 2011. It was further stated that Singh had developed a gambling ­problem and most of the stolen money was gambled away at a casino. Her ­lawyer, Brad Osborne, pleaded with the court for leniency “as she willingly and from the onset intended to plead guilty and admitted to her wrongdoings”.

“Singh, with an arrangement between her father Poobalen Krishnasamy ­Naidoo and the complainant [Makan], has already paid back R100 000 to the complainant. The court must be made aware that the payments stopped ­because the complainant instructed the accused [Singh] that the balance of the money must be paid within three months and that was beyond their financial means,” said Osborne.

He also asked the state to take into consideration her personal ­circumstances.

Singh has three children — aged 16, three years, and seven months.

She said she has suffered severe marital problems as her husband is unemployed and has taken to alcoholism.

“The accused is consumed by ­remorse and guilt. This and her personal circumstances should not take away from she has done, but the court should allow a certain understanding of why she would do something as stupid as this,” said Osborne.

However, the state argued that “the court must be mindful that there are other victims due to her actions” — the staff who are now unemployed also have families.

“This is a very significant amount we are talking about. The complainant himself has suffered a huge loss and the court has the obligation to send out a strong message. She [Singh] ought to have known there would be consequences for her family and many others when she was stealing,” said the state prosecutor.

The case was adjourned until July 30 for sentencing

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  fraud

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