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Court accounts assistant in trouble

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AN assistant accounting officer based at the Plumtree Magistrates’ Courts in Matabeleland South is in trouble after he allegedly received deposit fines amounting to more than R15 850 and attempted to divert part of the money to his own use.

SILAS NKALA
STAFF REPORTER

The official, Valentine Sigodo (38) of Rangeorie in Plumtree denied the fraud charge when he appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Charity Maphosa on Thursday. The magistrate remanded the case to November 13 for continuation.

Prosecutor Kudakwashe Jaravaza told the court that Sigodo’s duties included keeping cash, finance records and receiving deposit fines on behalf of the Judicial Services Commission.

Plumtree resident magistrate Gideon Ruvetsa is cited as complainant in the matter.

Jaravaza said on September 20 2014, Sigodo was on duty at Plumtree courts, when he received deposit fines from a police station in Bulilimamangwe district. The money was paid by people who had been convicted for various offences at Plumtree Magistrates’ courts.

Sigodo allegedly received R15 850 and $125 and he used a receipt book number 645 for receipting the rands on receipt numbers 004801 to 005000. The money totalled R15 850.

He was supposed to have used the receipt book number 593 with serial numbers 095401 to 0956001.

On September 22, Sigodo allegedly prepared his financial records for banking purposes. During the process he allegedly misrepresented to the resident magistrate Ruvetsa on the Plumtree Magistrates’ Court master receipt that he was in possession of $125, leaving R15 850, which Ruvetsa acknowledged before he could go to bank the money at ZB Bank.

Sigodo took the R15 850.

The court heard that on September 23 at 8:45am the Matabeleland South Provincial magistrate Reuben Mukabvi arrived at Plumtree courts to conduct a spot check on the manner of record keeping.

While doing his checks, he discovered that of the R15 850 that had been receipted by Sigodo on September 20 was recorded in a new book and not the one which was supposed to be used.

He also discovered that the amount had not been entered into Plumtree Magistrates’ Courts master receipt book for consolidation of banking on September 22.

Sigodo was then asked about the R15 850, as it was not accounted for and was also not in safe.

Sigodo is alleged to have told Mukabvi that the money had been banked on September 22, but said the bank slip was with Sonnyboy Ndlovu, the court clerk, whom he had sent to do banking at ZB Bank.

Mukabvi then sent Saniel Shumba, the Matabeleland south provincial accountant and Sigodo to go and fetch the deposit slip from Ndlovu.

However, when they got to the bank, Sigodo is alleged to have produced the missing money from his pocket and the court bank deposit book.

The two did not locate Ndlovu and they went back to the courts with the bank deposit book and a slip dated September 23 on which the $125 which was banked reflected.

Shumba then related the story to Mukabvi, leading to Sigodo’s arrest. In his defence, Sigodo told the court that he did not steal the money, but only delayed banking it.

He said he had not used the usual receipt book because he had forgotten the safe keys on September 20.

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