The Howick woman who was charged with fraud by the Umngeni SPCA three months ago was arrested on Thursday, two days after her return to South Africa.
The former Umngeni SPCA employee, a well-known Howick local, was charged by the SPCA for diverting donations to the value of R321 000 meant for the Umngeni SPCA to her account before skipping the country.
The woman, who cannot be named until she appears in court, was allegedly exposed when an elderly resident called the SPCA asking for a tax certificate after she had donated a substantial amount of money.
The SPCA said the money had never reached their bank account.
After an internal investigation, the SPCA discovered that their former employee had allegedly transferred money meant for them into her personal account.
A source close to the SPCA said last month that the woman had fled the country before the charges had been brought against her.
The source also said they believed some 32 counts of fraud have been tallied against the employee.
The woman is thought to have targeted pensioners at high-end retirement villages where she would garner their trust in an attempt to procure monetary donations for the SPCA.
It is believed that she switched the account number to her own, but kept the SPCA’s account name, when giving the details to her targets.
The woman is believed to have arrived at King Shaka International Airport on Monday night, however, no arrest was made as the warrant for her arrest had not yet been issued.
On Thursday, private investigator Brad Nathanson along with the Howick police, tracked her down to a farm just outside Howick, where she was arrested.
The woman and her mother were sitting on the patio of the farm house when the police and Nathanson arrived.
The woman, who was wearing a white shirt and denim shorts, and had her hair pulled back, immediately burst into tears as she saw Nathanson and the two policemen walking towards her.
The woman was placed under arrest and read her rights before she climbed into the back of a Howick detective’s unmarked vehicle.
With tears streaming down her face, she asked for her cigarettes and for her mother to bring her handbag to the police station.
While at the station, the woman smiled tearfully at her mother, who told her daughter to “relax”.
Nathanson said after the woman had fled the country, he had posted on his Facebook page, Brad Nathanson Investigations, asking people who had donated money through her to come forward.
More charges expected against alleged donor thief
“We were inundated with calls, e-mails, and Facebook messages from people wanting to remain anonymous, telling stories about her,” said Nathanson.
From there, he received information on Tuesday that the woman would be returning to South Africa later that night.
The warrant for her arrest was issued at 2.20 pm on Wednesday and yesterday, following a tipoff, Nathanson and the Howick police made their move.
Umngeni SPCA chairperson Dave Taylor said the woman was arrested in connection with criminal charges laid against her by the SPCA and that the amount allegedly diverted to her was R321 000.
He said the file would remain open as more people were expected to come forward.
He urged anyone who feels their monetary donations did not reach the SPCA to contact the organisation.
Mountain Rise police spokesperson Captain Gay Ebrahim confirmed the woman was arrested on Thursday afternoon for fraud and is expected to appear in the Howick Magistrate’s Court on Friday [today].