Did this chap really think he’d get away with it?
Quite some time ago, in November 2007, a security guard by the name of Tsheko Maloma, employed by the Greater Sekhukhune District Municipality in Groblersdal, stole a Vodacom 3G datacard from his employers.
Verily, a trustworthy chap, no? Definitely someone you’d like to have guarding your assets?
Maloma then proceeded to send SMS entries to the Vodacom “100 Cars in 100 Days” competition. He managed to ring up a staggering bill of R277,484.00. As each SMS cost R10, he must have sent almost 28,000 text messages.
Incidentally, this competition was shut down by the Lotteries Board before the 100 days were over (i.e. after 85 days), because they said it was illegal:
“Lotteries Board spokesperson Sershan Naidoo said the board has proposed that the Minister of Trade and Industry declare as illegal all competitions that require entrants to enter by means of SMSs costing more than the standard rates.” (see Vodacom switches from ‘play’ to ‘pay’)
How the municipality didn’t realise that one of their 3G cards had been stolen is a mystery, particularly once the phone bills started coming in. I can’t imagine the accountants or auditors NOT noticing such a spike in cellphone charges, can you?
Amazingly, Maloma’s greed and dishonesty were rewarded: He won a BMW 320i, one of the 100 vehicles. According to the BMW website, this car costs from R 373,000 upwards (ouch!).
When representatives from Vodacom called the cell phone number, Maloma confirmed that he was the registered user (!). The cheek of it – remarkable!
After the car had been duly registered in his name, he took receipt of it at a Pretoria motor dealership. Instead of driving it home and celebrating his good fortune, however, he took it to another dealership on the other side of town, and asked them to sell it for him.
And then, at last, the net started closing in on him:
“Eventually the municipality realised something was wrong and called Vodacom, who told them about the BMW winner.
Inspector Maphini Mashigoane of the Groblersdal police started searching for Maloma and the BMW. “On June 24, 2008, he received information that the car was at Groblersdal Police Station for clearance. He went to the police station and impounded the vehicle,” said the unit.
A week later Maloma handed himself over to Groblersdal police. He was charged with theft and subsequently convicted.” (Crooked security guard’s BMW snatched back)
In December 2008, the Asset Forfeiture Unit obtained a ‘preservation order’ against the car, and a ‘final confiscation order’ in April 2009. Initially, they’d planned to sell the car, but then the municipality decided against this, perhaps because the proceeds of the sale would not cover all their costs.
Instead, the municipality decided that the car would be handed over to Sekhukhune mayor David Magabe as his second, smaller vehicle, which suggests that he already has a nicer, more expensive car.
What happened to our elected politicians acting as good, responsible role models for the rest of us?
What happened to everyone (particularly politicians and overpaid fatcats) tightening teir belts in view of the global economic crisis?
What happened to the much-vaunted adoption of austerity measures (see DA adopts austerity measures in Western Cape, challenges national government to do the same and Sexwale launches austerity drive), at least temporarily (if not permanently, which would be nice) at least until the crisis is over?
I guess the answer is a succinct one: Not much.