A trustee of a Matabeleland South self-help water cooperative allegedly stole R1 million from the organisation’s bank account in South Africa putting the project into limbo.
At least 400 members of the Amanzi Mat-South Cooperative Society came together with a vision to buy borehole drilling equipment in 2019.
Each member is supposed to contribute about R17 000 towards the project and a consolidated account was opened in South Africa.
While members of the were optimistic of procuring rigs, cars and other equipment to propel their vision, one of their South African-based trustees Mr Tshidzani Ncube is alleged to have misappropriated R1,1 million.
He allegedly withdrew the money from the cooperative’s bank account and the theft was only discovered last month.
Amanzi Mat-South Cooperative Society chairman and prominent Bulawayo lawyer Mr Prince Butshe Dube yesterday confirmed that the organisation was dealing with a theft case.
“Without giving a formal statement, what you are referring to is true. I have not been given clearance by the executive. That’s why I was saying if it’s possible you could have contacted me tomorrow so that I seek authorisation because as a new organisation, we would not have prepared for some of these things,” said Mr Dube.
He said investigations are still ongoing to establish how Mr Ncube siphoned the trust funds.
“After we discovered (the theft), the guy went and sought legal advice from a certain law firm here in Bulawayo and they wrote to us stating that he withdrew the money as one of the trustees. I think the guy manipulated the bank system and we suspect that he connived with a bank employee because for any withdrawal there should be three signatories,” he said.
Mr Dube said they were yet to conduct a comprehensive audit but indications are that Mr Ncube withdrew about R1 million.
“His lawyers in fact wrote to us confirming that he took the money,” he said.
Mr Dube said a criminal case is being pursued against Mr Ncube who has committed to paying back the money.
“Our members have tried to report the case and have been to three police stations where they have been moved from one station to another, according to their report. It’s all work in progress. From where I stand, it’s a criminal matter and they will prosecute him obviously, but at least he has made an undertaking to pay back the money. In fact, he has started paying back,” said Mr Dube.
He said the theft of the funds was a major setback to their project meant to provide water to Matabeleland region.- Chronicle