'Rot at the top' inspires thieving soldier

2017-02-17 21:05

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Mbombela - A former SANDF member has told a magistrate that corrupt politicians inspired him to defraud the army of R326 000.

“I did the transfers because in this country, we read every day in the media about top politicians in government who defraud the country of millions without getting arrested,” Petros Ngoma, 48 of Mbombela, told the Nelspruit Regional Court on Thursday.

He claimed he used the money to treat his son’s epilepsy, and to buy a Renault Clio.

His lawyer Skhumbuzo Nkosi read his confession statement to the court.

The former SANDF clerk and his wife were arrested on November 15, 2016.

“I first transferred R146 000 into my bank account. I also deposited another R180 000 into that of my wife. I know my conduct was unlawful. I ask the court to have mercy on me,” he said.

Between August 2012 and May 2013, he created false accounts for SANDF members who did not exist. He paid their salaries into his own bank account and that of his unemployed wife’s Absa account. As he worked in human resources and handled salaries for SANDF members at its Mbombela base camp, he was able to do so with ease.

His wife was acquitted in the district court after it was revealed that Ngoma used her bank account without her knowledge and consent.

Arguing in mitigation of sentencing, Nkosi asked for a suspended sentence or a fine, as his client had taken responsibility and shown remorse.

“Top politicians who commit similar cases have inspired him into this kind of offence. Now the wife has lost trust in him. The court should allow him a second chance to return home and put his house in order,” Nkosi said.

Investigating officer, Warrant Officer Jabu Khubeka, challenged Ngoma’s claim that he used the money to have his son treated.

“The statements we retrieved indicate he used part of the money to build a house. He also bought a vehicle, which he has sold. There is no documented proof the money was used for medical reasons.”

He said Ngoma would be unable to pay a fine since he could not pay his R18 000 bail.

Prosecutor Bernard Mashego said Ngoma acted out of greed, bit the hand that fed him, and should be sent to jail.

Magistrate Shelly Msibi postponed sentencing to February 27.

Read more on:    mbombela  |  crime
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