Limpopo local govt almost loses more than R25m in scam, bank official in court

The Hawks. Picture: Bloemfontein Courant

His house was also searched and four Absa ATM cards, two withdrawal slips and R2,030 in cash were found and seized.

A Limpopo man accused of attempting to defraud three Limpopo provincial government departments and a parastatal out of several million rands was remanded in custody by the Waterval Magistrate’s Court in Limpopo yesterday.

Fhatuwani Sydwell Mudzanani, 27, allegedly attempted to defraud the Limpopo provincial government out of more than R25 million. Mudzanani, an Absa consultant attached to the Elim branch outside Makhado in Venda, will appear again on Monday for a formal bail application.

According to Oscar Siziba, Managing Executive: Regional Coverage for Gauteng and Limpopo at Absa Retail and Business Bank, following a joint operation between Absa Forensics, the Hawks and SAPS, “we can confirm that a suspect was arrested for alleged fraud of R25 million in Elim…

“Our forensics team immediately flagged the transactions and placed a hold on the accounts – no money was lost. We will continue to work with all authorities involved,” Siziba said.

Hawks provincial spokesperson in Limpopo Captain Matimba Maluleke said Mudzanani allegedly tapped into the accounts of the departments and transferred the money into other accounts. He said the accounts were allegedly created by Mudzanani himself in his name.

“Despite efforts by the suspect to conceal his acts, our team – comprising the Hawks, the serious crime investigation team, the Waterval SA Police Service and the Absa forensic investigators – uncovered enough evidence to arrest him. The team managed to trace and freeze the complex web of the bank accounts and they arrested him at his workplace on Friday. His house was also searched and four Absa ATM cards, two withdrawal slips and R2,030 in cash were found and seized,” said Maluleke.

The Limpopo provincial government confirmed yesterday that three of its provincial departments and one parastatal were among the departments allegedly defrauded by the suspect.

The four, according to the provincial government, are the departments of education, treasury, social development and the Limpopo economic development agency, which is a state-owned agency for the Limpopo provincial department of economic development, environment and tourism.

Limpopo spokesperson Kenny Mathivha told The Citizen yesterday that early reports have indicated that a total amount of R8.5 million was intercepted minutes before it was transferred into the banking accounts created by the suspect.

“Our forensic investigations unit intercepted the illegal transfer and stopped it before the money could land in the suspect’s accounts. Fortunately, the Limpopo provincial government did not suffer any losses in this regard. Our preliminary investigations revealed that there was also no government official involved in the scam.

“We, however, appreciate our forensic unit and the Hawks for due diligence and wish to warn anyone taking chances to steal taxpayers’ money that it is a criminal offence. Those who attempt to steal from the government, or anyone else, will face the full might of the law,” he said.

Mathivha said any developments on the matter would be made public. “We cannot allow thugs to steal our money, especially at a time the province needs money to address a number of things,” said Mathivha.

– news@citizen.co.za

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