Woman pleads guilty to fleecing Eastern Cape company out of R13.4m

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A woman has pleaded guilty to fraud.
A woman has pleaded guilty to fraud.
News24/file
  • A 63-year-old Eastern Cape woman pleaded guilty to over 900 counts of fraud.
  • Estelle Burgess, who was employed as a creditor's clerk, fraudulently substituted the banking details of creditors and suppliers with her own.
  • She had access to nine accounts from four different banks, and stole funds meant for creditors and suppliers.

A 63-year-old woman has pleaded guilty to over 900 counts of fraud, which, in over a decade, resulted in the siphoning of more than R13 million from the Eastern Cape Training Centre (ECT) in Port Elizabeth.

Estelle Burgess appeared in the Port Elizabeth Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on Wednesday, where she pleaded guilty to 972 counts of fraud.

According to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), while employed at the ECT as a creditor's clerk between November 2004 to September 2014, Burgess stole R13.4 million.

READ | Magashule's corruption case to be moved to the high court

Her duties at ECT included the capturing of payments owing to suppliers or creditors, and submitting captured payment lists for authorisation and payment.

She also assisted the company's financial manager in making payments to the creditors, using an online payment system.

"Only the two of them had access to ECT's banking system and she, among other duties, created spreadsheets, which included the banking details of the creditors and the amounts that were due," NPA spokesperson Anelisa Ngcakani said.

"Burgess presented these documents to the financial manager, who would then authorise the payments."

Burgess fraudulently substituted the banking details of creditors and suppliers with her own, and had access to nine accounts from four different banks, some of which were in her name.

"As a result, R13 460 236.05 was paid into her nine bank accounts."

Burgess was arrested in January 2019.

State prosecutor, advocate Ulrike De Klerk, accepted the plea as it was in accordance with the charge sheet and the police docket.

The matter against Burgess has been postponed to 6 May for the correctional supervision and probation officer's reports for sentencing.

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