“Pay Back Stolen Money or Face Jail Sentence” Court Tells Former Khanya Employee

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On 13 May 2021, Prince Lehlohonolo Maenetja (29), a former employee of Khanya College, was ordered by Johannesburg Central Magistrate Court to pay back the money he stole (R15 000) from Khanya College on 27 July 2019.

On 26-28 July 2019, Khanya College held a workshop on the budget for Community Healthcare Workers (CHWs) from the North West, Free State, Mpumalanga, Gauteng province. Maenetja was part of the Khanya finance team and one of his regular duties was to cash a cheque amount of R15 000 for the workshop. The money was meant to provide food and transport for the 50 CHWs who came to the workshop. But after cashing the cheque Maenetja never returned to Khanya’s offices at the House of Movements again.

When contacted by the College to find out what happened to him, Maenetja denied stealing the money. According to him, the R15 000 was the “repayment of the service rendered” to Khanya College. The College communicated to him that he needs to pay back the money he stole or it open a criminal case against him. In response, Maenetja went as far as saying that, “If you open a case against me give the officer my contact. I will be ready to clear my name”, he added. Maenetja was not cooperative and proceeded to send his resignation.

After reviewing what Maenetja did, and how it affected and hindered the work that Khanya does with working class communities and social movements, the College came to a decision and a theft case was opened. “Prince ran away with the money [meant for the CHWs workshop], and that is stealing from working class people,” said Khanya College Acting Director, Dr Maria Van Driel.

It took 18 months and 19 days for a judgment to be reached. On 13 May 2021, the theft case judgement was heard, and Maenetja appeared, still showing no remorse. “You are essentially being dishonest and caused a non-governmental organisation (NGO) to lose money through your actions,” said the Magistrate.

In the ruling, the Magistrate said; “Khanya College is doing good work for communities, by providing them with necessary skills to help themselves. You stole from an NGO that teaches people about their rights.” The court has found Mr. Maenetja guilty of theft.

Maenetja was sentenced to 18 months in prison, suspended for five years. He was also instructed to pay the R15 000 back to Khanya College. He must repay R750 every month on the 24th of each month, starting on 24 May. If he fails to do so, a Khanya College representative must report this to the court with immediate effect.

Khanya believes it was important to pursue this case of theft because it is necessary that activists and organisations safeguard and protect the resources of the working class and of the social movements that are needed to organise, mobilise and wage a struggle against an exploitative and neoliberal system.

This article was submitted on 15 May 2021. You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and Karibu! Online (www.Karibu.org.za), and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.

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