The sentencing proceedings of the Boksburg fraudster convicted of embezzling over R500 million have entered a crucial phase. As the case continues at the Johannesburg Commercial Crimes Court sitting in Palm Ridge, Hildegard Steenkamp will soon know her fate.
The State prosecutor, advocate Tilas Chabalala, concluded his cross-examination in aggravation of sentence, shedding further light on the gravity of Steenkamp’s actions. The 50-year-old resident of Cinderella was recently found guilty of siphoning R537 million from her former employer, Medtronic (Pty) Ltd, where she had worked as an accountant.
Her role as a junior accountant included claiming VAT refunds on behalf of the company. However, Steenkamp’s fraudulent scheme defrauded her employer. She deceived the South African Revenue Service (SARS), leading to a loss of R311 million through fraudulent VAT refund claims.
The court proceedings on August 14 saw the State present its case with testimony from Graeme Dawes, a forensic investigator. Dawes provided a detailed account of how Steenkamp executed her scheme over 13 years, from 2004 to 2016, before her arrest.
Steenkamp managed to divert substantial funds into her bank account and that of her deceased husband, capitalising on various claiming processes. The fraudulent gains allowed her to live a luxurious life with lavish overseas trips, high-end fashion shopping sprees, and substantial gambling expenditures.
During cross-examination by her defence, Steenkamp’s stance shifted. Initially blaming her late husband for coercing her into the thefts, she ultimately took full responsibility for her actions. She acknowledged that she conceived the idea of stealing the money, undermining her previous claims about her husband’s role in the crimes.
The court also revealed Steenkamp’s extensive gambling habits, with records showing significant losses at various local and overseas gambling establishments. Despite her initial claims of being under duress from her late husband, evidence pointed to her extravagant lifestyle and substantial involvement in the stolen funds.
Steenkamp’s sentencing hearing highlighted the intricate web of deceit she wove over many years, exploiting her position for personal gain. The court proceedings will resume on October 16 as the judge deliberates on the appropriate sentence for her crimes.
Picture: X / HloniMtimkulu
Follow us on Google News.