A Port Elizabeth woman has been sentenced to a decade in prison after she bankrupted her employer by stealing nearly R700 000 from his construction firm – and then spent half the money on her online lover, who turned out to be a fraud.
Mary Niekerk, 47, used the remaining cash to bankroll her extravagant lifestyle.
While her actions over the 22-month period resulted in her former boss having to liquidate a company he had built with his inheritance from his mother, Niekerk remained “unremorseful”.
Ten employees were retrenched as a result and remain unemployed.
But not only did Niekerk continue to loan money from Wikus Vlok as she stole from Caza Construction, after she was fired she tried to force him to pay her last month’s salary.
The Port Elizabeth Commercial Crimes Court sentenced Niekerk to 10 years in prison on Friday.
The court heard that Niekerk was employed at Caza as an administration assistant responsible for the administrative work, filing and payments of its creditors via internet banking.
She, accordingly, had access to the company’s business and expense accounts.
Niekerk had a personal bank account at Nedbank, which she had opened on June 25 2015, the day the thefts began.
Between June 2015 and April last year, she siphoned off nearly R700 000 from Caza’s bank account, or that of Vlok, to her personal bank account.
To conceal the thefts, she indicated the names of various creditors of Caza as references for the payments to her own bank account. State advocate Tjaart van Zyl said in aggravation of sentence that while stealing from Vlok, Niekerk begged him for a loan, “which he gave her out of the goodness of his heart”.
Niekerk then spent nearly R350 000 on a man she met on the internet. She said they fell in love – or that is what she believed at the time.
The man had told her that he lived in London and convinced her to invest in his fraudulent money-making schemes, Niekerk told the court.
The remainder of the cash was splurged on expensive clothes and other luxury items.