Francistown Principal Magistrate, Dumisani Basupi last week sentenced Veronica Keitebetse, a 24 year old┬á Francistown woman to three years suspended sentence and six months community service after she was convicted for defrauding National Development Bank(NDB) of over P90 000.
According to court documents, on or about the 11th of October 2011 in Francistown, the accused knowingly and fraudulently presented false documents before NDB officers in Francistown in order to secure an agricultural loan amounting to P97 000.
The false documents include among others, land certificate, First National Bank statement, salary advice slip and confirmation letter.
NDB approved her loan without suspicion and the money was deposited into her account sometime in January 2012. It was later realized by the bank management after the money was deposited into her account that her documents were fraudulent and the matter was reported to the police and she was later arrested.
The accused pleaded not guilty to the offence. In her unsworn evidence before court during trial the accused denied ever acquiring money from NDB. Shockingly her FNB bank statement which was produced as evidence showed that P97 000 was deposited into her bank account from NDB and had been withdrawn from the account at different time intervals.
A number of false documents which she used during the proposal of the loan were also tendered before court as evidence. The documents contained her details including her names and signatures. She however failed to distance herself from the documents during cross examination asserting that she did not apply for the loan.
During conviction, the court found that there was overwhelming evidence against the accused as she failed to answer on how the money ended up in her account. The court also took into account the fact that the accused failed to distance herself from the signatures and many other details that were found in the fraudulent documents.
Passing sentence, Magistrate Basupi took into cognition the fact that the accused is a first offender. He also took into account the age of the accused and the fact that she has got a child.
“From the money that was taken from NDB, the bank only managed to recover P10 000. This clearly shows that the accused benefited from the offence. I have no doubt that the accused had planned this crime. It is the duty of this court to send a strong message to those who want to engage into these criminal activities,” said the magistrate.
“In balancing the society’s interest and that of the accused I sentence the accused to three years suspended sentence and six months community service. In the coming three years, the accused should not have any brushes with the law. She should also pay P500.00 to court in seven days or face eight months prison term,” he ruled.
The magistrate in conclusion ordered that the accused pay NDB its money. The owed amount currently stands at over P122 000 as it has accumulated interest from January 2015.
The accused was represented by Mishingo Jeremia of Jeremia Attorneys while Gasemotho Pitlagano of the DPP was prosecuting.