Publication: The Natal Witness Issued: Date: 2005-03-05 Reporter: Hanti Otto Reporter:

R5m Fraud Gets Man 20 Years



Saturday Independent




Hanti Otto

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A man who defrauded Vodacom of more than R5 million was sentenced to 20 years in jail *1 yesterday by the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court.

Nurullah Mia, 43, of Lenasia was arrested in July 2001 after an investigation by Vodacom, Standard Bank and the Pretoria police's commercial branch.

Mia deposited a cheque of R920 000 from Vodacom Service Providers into his account at Absa bank in April 2001. The next month he did the same with a cheque for R4.8 million.

Mia first pleaded not guilty to two charges of fraud in February 2004. However, in May that year he changed his plea to guilty. According to the probation officer's report, Vodacom reported to Standard Bank, where the company has an account, that a cheque book had been stolen and about R5.7 million had been processed from their account. An investigation led to Mia's account.

It was established that the accused received the cheques from Fabian Petersen and another man. Petersen was sent to jail for stealing the cheques from Vodacom.

According to Petersen, the men were not partners as Mia alleged, but they were all together in the "scheme" of stealing cheques and processing them. The report said Mia was used to living on a monthly income of more than R20 000 until he ran into financial problems.

Friends of Mia testified in mitigation of sentence that he was a trustworthy man who did a lot for his community. He was a committed Muslim and drove a hearse for funerals any time of the day or night, they said.

Defence lawyer Jaro Vogel said afterwards Mia would appeal against the sentence.

With acknowledgements to Hanti Otto and the Saturday Independent.

*1 The size of things to come?