SPCA manager flees with donations

2016-11-16 10:05
'Likeable' fund-raiser took thousands meant for animals.

'Likeable' fund-raiser took thousands meant for animals. (File)

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Pietermaritzburg - A former Umngeni SPCA employee and well-known Howick local may have skipped the country with over a quarter of a million rands in donations made for stray animals.

The Witness can reveal that the employee has been accused of scamming elderly locals out of thousands of rands under the pretence of gathering donations for the Howick-based SPCA.

The woman — whose name is known to The Witness but whose identity cannot be revealed until she appears in court — is believed to have fled the country almost two months ago when cases of fraud and theft were opened against her by the Umngeni SPCA.

Sources said the woman was ratted out when an elderly resident called the SPCA asking for a tax certificate after she had donated a substantial amount of money.

However, the money had never reached the SPCA’s bank account.

After an internal investigation, the SPCA discovered that their former employee had allegedly transferred money meant for them into her personal account.

Umngeni SPCA operations manager Dudu Abraham said they were “investigating a case of theft of money” by an former employee and that she was “no longer in the employ of the Umngeni SPCA”.

She said a criminal case had been opened with the police and investigations were underway. “We wish to assure our supporters that the matter is being taken seriously and we are doing everything in our power to ensure that justice is served and that the stolen funds are recouped,” said Abraham.

“We ask that you continue to support us in our efforts to assist animals.”

A source close to the SPCA said the woman had fled the country before the charges had been brought against her.

The source believes some 32 counts of fraud have been tallied against the employee and the sum of money she allegedly stole has since exceeded half a million rands.

“According to our information, [the accused] allegedly targeted retirees at high-end retirement villages where she would garner their trust in an attempt to procure monetary donations for the SPCA,” the source said.

“It is believed she switched the account number to her own, but kept the SPCA’s account name, when giving the details to her targets.

“When the money was deposited into her account, she allegedly kept a cut before handing over the rest to the SPCA,” the source said.

A Howick local who asked not to be named said there were allegations that the woman also owed money for levies at a Howick residence, and was in debt to other local businesses.

She said the woman had recently told her that she had been due for a promotion at the Umngeni SPCA, but had not been granted her new position.

The woman allegedly told the Howick local that she was “done” with the SPCA and shortly after that she left the country.

A friend of the woman, who asked not to be named, said she could not believe that she would do something like this.

“She is a great lover of animals. She is outgoing, likeable, dynamic and seemed the right kind of person to do fund-raising. She is very popular. This is really shocking. It just shows you can never tell,” the friend said.

Police spokesperson Gay Ebrahim said a case of fraud had been opened at the Howick police station, and that the suspect is believed to be out of the country.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  spca

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