THE Bulawayo City Council was defrauded of close to $20 000 for the hire of the city halls by a former employee.
Fazo Nkiwane, a senior clerical assistant abruptly resigned and left for South Africa after the scam was unearthed.
According to a confidential council report dated March 28, Nkiwane was in charge of the hiring out of both the Large and Small City Hall, but he allegedly did not remit refundable cash deposits to council paid by clients for use of both facilities. The refundable depots are repaid after council has ascertained that there was no damage to property.
This came to light when a senior administrative officer noticed that a church conference conducted by Jesus Promotions Ministries was done without authorisation.
On inquiry, the official discovered that there was a shortfall in booking fees. Another church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints also held a function at the City Hall without paying.
Investigations were conducted and several council officials, clients and Nkiwane’s wife were interviewed.
However, the audit committee said it was difficult to compile the actual amount of refundable deposits misappropriated admitting that council’s internal monitoring systems were too lax.
The report indicated that between January 2010 and April 2014, Nkiwane collected cash deposits totalling $45 084.
“A record of bookings for the period January 2010 through April 2014 compiled by audit revealed that cash deposits worth $45 048 were collected from clients by Nkiwane,” the report says.
“A total amount of $29 019 was collected by clients as cash refunds leaving a balance of $16 029.
“This latter amount could not be accounted for and of this amount, only $6 990 has been confirmed as misappropriated since clients have come forward with proforma invoices to claim their refunds. The balance of $9 039 is of clients who are yet to make their claims,” the report added.
According to the report, council will now pay out the funds and recoup the money from Nkiwane’s benefits.
“Noting that Nkiwane has since resigned to escape dismissal, council should reimburse defrauded clients $17 649 being the total amount embezzled by Nkiwane.
“Out of the $17 649, a sum of $6 990 should be immediately paid out to clients who have brought forward their claims and $1 620 be paid back to council, the latter being the booking fees that were embezzled by Nkiwane.
“The balance of $9 039 would be paid out as and when audit has verified that the amounts claimed are genuine. Further, the embezzled amount should be recovered from Nkiwane’s terminal benefits.” part of the report reads.
The committee said it faced challenges investigating the matter.
“The absence of Nkiwane resulted in audit failing to obtain clarifications on certain information concerning bookings.
“His wife informed audit that Nkiwane was now staying in South Africa and she was not aware when he would return to Zimbabwe. This was after she had submitted Nkiwane’s resignation letter dated September 2013.”
The audit committee also resolved to report the matter to the police.