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By Chulumanco Mahamba

Digital Night Supervisor

Primary school financial officer arrested for alleged R2,6m fraud

The Hawks have arrested Larrisa Aloma Vern for embezzling R2.6 million from Delmas Primary School.

A Mpumalanga primary school financial officer has found herself in hot water with the Hawks after she was arrested for alleged fraud.

The 52-year-old Larrisa Aloma Vern was remanded on Tuesday by the Delmas Magistrate’s Court after she was arrested by the Hawks’ Secunda-based Serious Commercial Crime Investigation and Delmas Management Information Centre officer.

Vern was allegedly appointed by Delmas Primary School as a financial officer in December 2021.

Captain Dineo Lucy Sekgotodi said her duties and responsibilities were to make payments for services rendered to the school, pay salaries to teachers appointed by the school governing body, receive cash for sales made at the school, manage the budget, ensure expenses didn’t exceed the budget, petty cash, and deposit cash at the bank.

Suspect paid herself two bonuses

However, on 25 October, 2023, the school received information regarding Vern paying herself two bonuses, and an investigation was conducted.

“During the investigation, it was discovered that on 6 March 2023, the suspect paid herself R11 237 which was correct. On 20 0ctober 2023, she paid herself another bonus of R22 543 which was not permitted,” Sekgotodi said.

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Upon further investigation, it was revealed that from 4 March 2023 to 2 November 2023, R2 665 007,34 was paid out from the school bank account to four Capitec bank account numbers belonging to Vern. One bank account was paid multiple times with various references.

“She used the names of account holders known to the school to transfer funds to her personal bank accounts,” said Sekgotodi.

R2,6 million defrauded from the school

According to the Hawks, a total of R2 665 007,34 was defrauded from the school.

The investigation was finalised, a warrant of arrest was authorised and executed on Friday, 9 February and Vern was arrested and detained until her first appearance in court on Monday.

She was subsequently remanded on Tuesday, and the case was postponed to 19 and 20 February for bail application.  

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