By Enyichukwu Enemanna
A Court in South Africa on Friday sentenced a woman, Hildegard Steenkamp to 50 years imprisonment for stealing $28m from her employer.
Steenkamp committed the crime over a 13-year period from the healthcare company where she worked as an accountant in Gauteng province.
She had earlier pleaded guilty to 336 counts of fraud.
During her appearance in court, the magistrate said he had never worked on a case that involved the theft of such a large sum by an individual.
Magistrate Phillip Venter expressed his shock saying “to comprehend that one employee stole so much money from her employer is mind-boggling”.
Steenkamp’s defence was that her abusive late husband forced her to steal the money. Mr Venter disputed this and said “she perpetrated the actions alone”.
Forensic investigators found that Steenkamp spent the money funding her lavish lifestyle of gambling, jewellery purchases and travel.
On one spending spree she spent $263,000 in a single night at a casino.
The court also heard that Steenkamp spent nearly $1.6m on international trips and visited Dubai frequently.
She worked at the company between 2004 to 2017 before she resigned.
According to the South African police, Steenkamp managed to execute this plan as she was given authority to add or remove creditors from the company’s database.
She added her husband as a creditor and started depositing money into his account.
Steenkamp handed herself to the authorities in 2018 and was granted bail.
She eventually pleaded guilty earlier this year.