Citizen
National 23.2.2014 07.18 am

Intern fleeces NGO of R2.6m

The International Organisation for Migration has obtained a final court order to freeze the bank accounts and assets of a former financial assistant who allegedly defrauded it with over R2.6 million.

The money Sinovuyo Ziyanda Mjali allegedly stole was intended for use in the organisation’s medical humanitarian work amongst migrants.

The North Gauteng High Court on Thursday granted a final order freezing the bank accounts and assets of Mjali, pending the finalisation of a sequestration application against her.

The Swiss-based mission’s chief in Pretoria, Erick Ventura, said in court papers Mjali’s actions could have far reaching consequences, not only in the organisation, but also its relationship with South Africa.

He said in an affidavit Mjali started working at the mission in October 2011 as an intern on the strength of her curriculum vitae which stressed her “enthusiasm, honesty and loyalty”.

It raised no suspicion when she told them she wanted to complete her articles at an international auditing firm in Sandton, but they launched an immediate investigation when they found out in January this year that duplicate payments had been made to certain medical suppliers.

When she was confronted in January, Mjali allegedly admitted illegally transferring R311 000 to her personal bank account in December, claiming it was for family reasons since her brother’s legs were going to be amputated.

At a meeting attended by the UN Safety and Security officer, representatives of the diplomatic police service and her lawyer she admitted to misappropriating R2.1 million. She offered to repay the amount at R180 000 a month, which the organisation rejected.

Ventura said in the affidavit they had managed to trace the falsified payments back to December 2011, two months after Mjali started working there.

Further investigations also revealed that she had allegedly misappropriated over R2.68 million during 60 transactions over a period of two years.

Ventura stated their investigation revealed Mjali had reprocessed payments to suppliers, inserting her own bank details on the new payment request.

She allegedly concealed her conduct for two years by deleting the fraudulent transactions from their online system and destroying hard copies of the fraudulent payments. – ilsedl@citizen.co.za