PE woman lives the high life on company money

Estelle Ellis

THE glamorous life of a former high-flying Port Elizabeth businesswoman – filled with convertibles, exotic pets, landscaped gardens, lavish shopping sprees and huge credit card bills – was funded by money misappropriated from a top South African quantity surveying firm, the Port Elizabeth High Court has found.

Judge Nambitha Dambuza has ordered that Mada Kotze pay back more than R6-million which forensic auditors said she had misappropriated from LDM Quantity Surveyors while heading up their Port Elizabeth office. She will also have to pay 15.5 % interest.

The civil case against her was brought by the company.

Kotze, 54, also uses the surnames Butt, Coetzee, Hattingh and Bezuidenhout. She has two adult children and lives on the beachfront in Bluewater Bay.

Once involved in multimillion-rand projects for LDM, she is now being investigated by the police’s commercial crimes unit after LDM laid a fraud and theft complaint against her.

Once the investigation is completed, it will be forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions for a decision on whether or not to pursue criminal charges against her.

Sources close to the case say she is also under investigation by the Special Investigations Unit for allegedly defrauding PetroSA and SARS.

Kotze, who has re-established herself as cyber-entrepreneur Mada Butt, said on her Facebook page that her favourite quote was to “do unto others as you would have done to you”.

She also writes advice columns on “how to get back your ex”.

She was appointed a director and shareholder of LDM Quantity Surveyors in 2002, headed up the Port Elizabeth office from 2002 until 2010, and had signing power on the company’s cheque account.

According to a forensic auditors report, Kotze misappropriated more than R6-million from the company during the last three years of her tenure by “mostly confusing bookkeepers through the use of different surnames”.

The report before court said she had spent the R6-million on:

ýBuying a monkey worth R1500 from a “Dr Baloyi”. One of her former staff members confirmed yesterday that Kotze loved monkeys and used to bring the monkey to work, where her staff had to change its nappies and endure its excrement and hair on their computer terminals.

More payments totalling R60300 were made to the same beneficiary;

ýMaking more than 100 payments to cover her personal expenses totalling R328049.

Fake invoices were used to cover payments to a clothing store account totalling R120300 and 23 payments to her credit card account totalling R249000;

ýA 2003 Mercedes Kompressor Coupe that was for her personal use. An amount of R180000 was paid to a Bruno Ponzo for the car;

ýEight payments totalling R165501.75 for the light fittings to her house from the company account;

ýFurniture worth R88645;

ýLandscaping at her house worth R124011;

ýPaying the bond on her house. The report said auditors had evidence from her former employees that close to R2-million was paid from LDM’s account to Jiyane & Co Consulting, but was really used to pay her house;

ýStudent wages for her children. Kotze paid R52000 to her children and settled a R2249 pharmacy account.

The report also found that Kotze:

ýFaked credit card statements as she was allowed to claim back certain expenses from the company.

The faked statements indicated that the VAT rate was 4% and were riddled with spelling mistakes. Bank officials confirmed to the forensic auditors that the statements were fake;

ýIssued 16 invoices with a fake VAT number totalling R139200 to LDM on behalf of BBA Quantity Surveyors, but the money was paid to her; and

ýMade 16 monthly salary payments to a Mickey Runnals that were transferred to her own bank account.

In her reply to LDM’s claim, Kotze denied all the allegations against her. She claimed the forensic report was based on untested evidence by her former employees.

Court papers were filed with her lawyer’s letters, threatening LDM Quantity Surveyors that punitive cost orders would be sought against them if they continued with the case.

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