Crime/03 March 2023,14:34pm/ Staff Writer
Fraudster Michael Chimanzi: image supplied
By Staff Writer: A businessman walked away with a suspended sentence after defrauding Eskom of more than R2.6m.
The Nelspruit commercial crimes court sentenced Michael Chimanzi, 57, to eight years’ imprisonment, which was wholly suspended for five years.
According to NPA spokesperson in Mpumalanga Monicca Nyuswa, Chimanzi was charged along with his two co-accused, Nwabisa Ngxola and Cinderella Moropane, both of whom were employed by Eskom as finance clerks.
But defence counsel for Ngxola and Moropane applied for a separation of trials, which the court granted.
The three were convicted of fraud, theft, and money laundering. Ngxola and Moropane will be sentenced on May 2.
“The trio acted in common purpose and submitted fraudulent invoices to Eskom. Ngxola’s password and username were used to capture certain payments to Mandla Lines CC, which is a legitimate company registered in the name of Chimanzi.
“They shared the proceeds among themselves and the accused were arrested after the police received a tip-off,” Nyuswa said.
According to Nyuswa, the deputy director of public prosecutions, Adv Billy Moalusi, led evidence by several witnesses which proved the invoices were fraudulent.
“The supervisor of two Eskom officials testified about the extent of the damage caused to the business. Their evidence was supported by the owner of Mandla Lines who confirmed that they colluded and provided false invoices to Eskom.”
Magistrate Sheila Msibi said theft affects the economy.
In handing down sentence, she said she took into consideration the personal circumstances of Chimanzi, the seriousness of the offence he was convicted of and the interest of justice.
She also took into consideration the fact that Chimanzi had already spent four years in prison awaiting trial.
She sentenced him to eight years’ imprisonment suspended for five years on condition he is not convicted of money laundering or a related offence.
The director of public prosecutions in Mpumalanga, Nkebe Kanyane, said fraud is “a pandemic that engulfs our economy and is perpetrated by well-sophisticated people and should be stopped in its tracks”.