AgriCAD woman sentenced for 85 counts of theft

Henry

The specialized commercial crime court in Pretoria sentenced Lizette Marielle Steyn (56), a former financial and administrative manager of AgriCAD, to 12 years’ direct imprisonment on Friday. She was found guilty on 85 charges of theft.

According to Lumka Mahanjana, spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority, Steyn worked as financial and administrative manager for AgriCAD, a company that manufactures agricultural tools, from February 2019.

“Her responsibilities included charging the creditors monthly for payment on the business bank account and doing day-to-day bookkeeping.

“Steyn therefore had full access to AgriCAD’s Absa bank accounts,” says Mahanjana.

During her employment, Steyn changed the details of one of AgriCAD’s Absa bank accounts and replaced them with her six different personal Capitec accounts.

“From October 2020 to May 2023, 85 different payments of more than R16 million were paid into her personal bank accounts for the company.

“With the money, Steyn installed solar panels at her home and bought luxury items, as well as a caravan and a vehicle for her son-in-law.

“She also paid for her daughter’s wedding and her family’s weekend trips and holidays,” says Mahanjana.

Steyn was arrested in July last year and has been in custody since then.

“In court, she pleaded guilty to the charges and said she stole the money to pay debts because her husband lost his job.”

She asked that the court take into account her poor health “and that she is a first offender” when imposing a sentence.

The prosecutor, adv. Rachelle van der Walt, however, argued that although Steyn was a first offender, her offenses were committed over three years.

Van der Walt further said that Steyn was in a position of trust, but betrayed her employee and did not hesitate to hide her dishonest actions.

“She opened Capitec accounts in her name which she used to receive the stolen money for luxury items and an extravagant lifestyle.”

Van der Walt therefore asked the court to consider a long-term prison sentence when the sentence is handed down.

During the sentencing, the magistrate, Ignatius du Preez, said Steyn pleaded guilty because she had no other choice.

“The fact that she ‘changed her heart’ and admitted her criminal actions is because she was caught and not out of inner feelings of regret.”

“Steyn committed the offense when she was at an age where she was expected to be able to distinguish between right and wrong, but she failed miserably.

“Furthermore, courts are increasingly confronted with the situation where offenders with medical challenges commit serious offences, but no illness can be used as a license to commit a crime.”

The National Prosecuting Authority welcomed the sentence.