THE KZN government employee believed to be linked to the disappearance of R7.5 million from the provincial Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) was released on a R50 000 bail after appearing in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court on Friday.
Patricia Nokwazi Chule will appear in court again on 1 February, 2016.
The money, which had been ring-fenced for a community centre in Bulwer went missing last month.
Chule is believed to have resigned with immediate effect on 26 November and went into hidding. Police said she had been arrested at the home of another suspect in the case, businessman Mex Dhladhla.
He had been arrested on 3 December and was released on R50 000 bail after appearing at the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court.
Police spokesperson Mthokozisi Ngobese said the second suspect is expected to appear at the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court soon.
Chule had worked as a junior official in the finance division and it is alleged she substituted the bank account on Ingwe Municipality’s claim form with a private bank account.
The R7.5 million was allegedly sent to the bank account of a business owned by Dhladhla, Imvusa Trading.
Sources in the department said an “unsuspecting” colleague authorised the payment on 11 November.
Sources inside the department said the employee, who had authorised the payment, was suspended, but later cleared after she explained herself during an internal investigation.
Cogta MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube said law enforcement agencies were investigating how this could happen and whether other parties were involved.
“The Hawks have demonstrated commendable efficiency in their investigation and today’s arrest of the alleged mastermind attests to this. The arrest also comes a day after the international anti-corruption day celebrated yesterday.
“In the wake of the multimillion-rand theft, Cogta has further tightened the screws on its internal financial controls. We assure the public we will draw the necessary conclusions from this incident. Our message of zero tolerance to potential thieves inside and outside the government is clear,” said Dube-Ncube. - News24.