A FORMER Home Affairs official accused of defrauding the department out of about R250000 was jailed for four years yesterday.
Even though Selby Skosana, 39, only pocketed R45000 of the total – and paid it all back – the Port Elizabeth Commercial Crimes Court ruled no other punishment was suitable as the offence was so prevalent.
Skosana, from Centurion, was employed as a senior accounting clerk in the Pretoria Home Affairs finance department at the time of the crime. His lawyer, Brian Maqungu, told the court Skosana was not strapped for cash and could not explain why he committed the offence.
Skosana is married to a senior government official whose name was not revealed in court. He also runs an events company from which he earns about R26000 a month.
Skosana pleaded guilty to charges of fraud and corruption shortly after his arrest in November. His co-accused, Primrose Dyonase, a control immigration officer at the Port Elizabeth office, who is in her 40s, pleaded not guilty and will stand trial in May.
She was suspended from the department and is out on R2500 bail.
The two allegedly colluded to defraud the department out of R250000 between January 2011 and December 2012. Skosana, whose duties included the checking, capturing and filing of travel and subsistence claims, said he had helped Dyonase to submit false or inflated claims.
In exchange, he received kickbacks.
While the department lost a total of R250000 during that time, Skosana received only R45000 in total.Maqungu said Skosana had since repaid the R45000 and was willing to pay back the rest in monthly instalments.
Skosana was in charge of claims from Limpopo, Free State and Northern Cape.
However, he used this code to capture Dyonase’s claims from the Eastern Cape, a province not assigned to him.He then indicated on the system that Dyonase was based in Kimberley.
Skosana resigned after the department got wind of the illegal activity in about May last year.
But Eunice Mhlanga, deputy director of investigations for the department, said yesterday that all the claim forms, bar one, were mysteriously destroyed following Skosana’s resignation, making it difficult to establish the exact amount of the fraud.
She said eight other officials from around the country could still be arrested.
Mhlanga was testifying in aggravation of sentence.
“The department is faced with so much corruption, it is very seldom that claim irregularities are picked up.
“We predominantly focus on fraud in departments such as immigration. We were lucky to pick this one up.”
She said more cases could be opened.
“We need to audit how bad the damage actually is. Investigations were launched in Limpopo, but the Port Elizabeth investigator was the first to make an arrest.
“The Hawks are still investigating in other provinces.”
Prosecutor Ronelle Brink said although Skosana had pleaded guilty, he did not explain why he committed the offence. Magistrate Hannes Claassen said what made the offence so serious was that the stolen money should have been used for the community at large.
Skosana was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment, of which two were suspended for five years.