Windhoek-Rehoboth resident, Mark Wayne van Wyk, 29, who confessed in the Windhoek High Court that he committed 288 acts of fraud against his employer, Standard Bank Namibia in Gobabis was sentenced to an effective six years in prison by High Court Judge Naomi Shivute on Wednesday morning.
The judge sentenced Van Wyk to eight years of which two years are suspended for five years on condition that Van Wyk is not convicted of fraud committed during the period of suspension. Van Wyk pleaded guilty at his very first court appearance in the Gobabis Magistrate’s Court.
He admitted that he fraudulently manipulated the banks’ Internal Revenue Interest Account and transferred money into his personal account and the accounts of friends, relatives and acquaintances over a period of just more than two years.
According to Judge Shivute, the fact that Van Wyk is a first offender who pleaded guilty to all 288 counts of fraud and saved the State the trouble to call witnesses and go through a lengthy trial weighed heavily in his favour.
“There is no doubt that the accused had shown genuine remorse because he took the court into his confidence and testified under oath expressing full responsibility for what he did,” the judge said and continued: “The accused said he was sorry for his actions and that he is ready to accept any punishment the court may impose on him for his deeds. The accused had also offered to compensate his former employer the pension money due to him which is N$135,413.20.” But, the judge said, this is just a drop in the ocean compared to the sum of money stolen which is in excess of N$1.6 million.
“The court has taken into consideration that the complainant had suffered a loss as the money was not recovered,” the judge remarked. She further said Van Wyk committed committed the offences while he was in a position of trust.
“He bore the responsibility of supervising other employees to ensure they perform their functions with diligence and honesty. Yet he had the audacity to tell the court in its face that he was tempted to steal from his employer because of the laxity in the security system at the workplace. This lame excuse is unacceptable and is adding insult to the reputational damage and financial harm the accused caused his ex-employer,” the judge stated. She went on to say: “It deserves to be condemned in the strongest terms.”
According to Judge Shivute, the accused decided to breach the trust his employer had placed in him. She said the crimes committed by him were pre-meditated and were committed over a lengthy period of time. She further said that Van Wyk had ample time to reflect and come to his senses to stop his criminal actions, but he opted to continue with his actions until he was discovered. This she said weighed heavily against him.
Judge Shivute went on to say that although Van Wyk pleaded for mercy, it does not mean the court should impose lighter sentences or hesitate to impose deterrent sentences when it is called for by circumstances. Theft from an employer is viewed in a serious light by the courts and calls for a deterrent sentence the judge said before she sent Van Wyk to jail.