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Bookkeeper accused of stealing R4m

A bookkeeper accused of stealing over R4.3m over seven years from her former employers was granted R5,000 bail by the Fort Beaufort magistrate’s court on Monday.
Michelle van der Merwe, who worked for cartage company Blom Vervoer in Fort Beaufort, was arrested in Bloemfontein on Friday.
According to the state, she diverted the millions from her employer’s two bank accounts to her and her daughter’s personal bank accounts.
She is accused of using the money to pay for her lease, loan repayments, payments for her personal vehicles, her parents’ old age home costs and for the purchases of paintings.
Some electronic transactions were allegedly disguised as tax payments to Sars. She also stands accused of illegally increasing her salary between 1998 and 2013.
According to court papers, she had access to the company’s cheque and savings bank accounts as she was responsible for payment of staff salaries, the company’s suppliers and their income tax.
Senior prosecuting advocate Wayne Jaftha told the court that between 1998 and 2014, Van der Merwe unlawfully paid herself an annual salary increase totaling to R233 674.
Jaftha said she made various unlawful payments from the company’s accounts totalling R422,136 to pay for her vehicles, and between August 2012 and October 2013 she paid R34,920 to an old age home where her parents lived. “The accused further unlawfully transferred from the Blom Vervoer business account R60,750 towards the purchase of paintings for her personal use. She concealed these payment transfers as money paid to Sars and to other businesses that had rendered services to Blom Vervoer,” Jaftha told court.
According to her charge sheet, Van der Merwe had seven personal bank accounts with banks which she used to siphon the cash from her unsuspecting bosses.
Co-owner Louise Blom told the Dispatch they were alerted to a problem when Sars asked them for unpaid income tax “dating back a couple of years”.
She said they were also called by their suppliers demanding payments. Fort Beaufort regional court magistrate Khuselwa Majali, after granting Van der Merwe bail, also ordered that her passport be confiscated.
Majali told her to report to police three times a week and barred her from leaving Bloemfontein without permission.
She is due back in court on January 24...

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