Former police colonel found guilty of 19 counts of travel claim fraud

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  • A former police officer has been found guilty of 19 counts of fraud.
  • He allegedly received about R47 000 in undue payments through fraudulent travel claims.
  • He has been sentenced to a R30 000 fine or 12 months' imprisonment.

A former Northern Cape police officer has been found guilty of 19 counts of fraud after he admitted to submitting false travel claims.

The former police colonel, 57-year-old Avril Christopher Wentzel, pleaded guilty in the Kimberley Regional Court on Tuesday.

Wentzel, who worked as a detective in Kimberley, submitted several fraudulent travel claims in 2014, the court heard.

"He misused his state benefit of the Middle Management Service (MMS) scheme when he received an undue payment of approximately R47 000. His abuse of the subsistence and travel allowance was uncovered in 2015, which prompted an in-depth probe by the Hawks' Serious Corruption Investigation team into the fraudulent claims," Hawks spokesperson Nomthandazo Mnisi said.

In October 2019, Wentzel was served with a summons to appear in the Kimberley Regional Court on completion of the investigation.

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"He pleaded guilty on nineteen counts of fraud, which culminated in his conviction. He was subsequently sentenced to a fine of R30 000 or 12 months' imprisonment. Furthermore, an additional five years' imprisonment, suspended for five years on condition that he is not found guilty of fraud during the period of suspension, was imposed on him," Mnisi said.

National head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation Lieutenant General Godfrey Lebeya welcomed the conviction and sentence.

"It is unfortunate that a senior official who is a commissioned officer, that has been bestowed on him by the state president (sic), has succumbed to the temptation of looting the public purse. May the honest serving members appreciate that crime does not pay and that those who betray their oath of office by committing crime will never go unpunished," Lebeya said.


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