School losses M3 700 to suspected conman

Thato RamarikhoaneBy ‘Mantoetse Maama

Butha-Buthe — A Motswana man allegedly fleeced a school of M3 700 on the pretext that he would assist them acquire equipment worth M7 million for different projects.

The man, who claimed he was representing Sun International, a development agency, reportedly said he would assist local pre-schools to renovate their premises and also procure equipment for catering services at the schools.

In order to qualify for the deal, the man allegedly said prospective beneficiaries would need to possess modern catering equipment.

Having advised the prospective beneficiaries that they needed to upgrade their catering equipment in order to attract the large sums of aid, the suspect, persuaded them to part with M3 500 for the equipment.

In addition, he asked for M200 from the school claiming he was going to use it to buy a school stamp.

Police say altogether the suspect robbed a school in Butha-Buthe of about M3 700.

According to the principal of Lipelaneng Early Child Care Development, ’Malimpho Tšoeli, the man had volunteered to help renovate their school, pay for the school feeding programme and cleaning of services.

“It was on August 30 when a man who called himself James came to our school.

“He claimed that he was working for a company that offers support to local pre-schools.

“The man had promised to renovate our school and enhance the feeding programme by establishing a catering company that feeds the children and also clean school premises,” Tšoeli said.

The suspect asked them to list the school’s needs promising the company he was representing would build six classrooms, eight offices and fence the school yard.

Among other proposals the suspect said cleaners would do laundry for the school children.

On Fridays kids would leave their uniforms at school to be washed and they would get them on Mondays when they come to school.

The cleaning company would also ensure that the classrooms and the school surroundings were clean.

He also promised to buy two taxis which would be branded with the school name.

The agency he said, would pay the drivers and maintain the vehicles.

He told them that the company which was going to provide catering services for the children would be paid M85 000 per month while the one providing cleaning services would get M65 000.

Both firms were going to get a three-year contract.

After promising to pay salaries for the principal, accountant, and chairman of the school, the suspect asked the school to provide him with their financial records so he would refund all expenses incurred since the school was established.

“We believed everything that he told us because most of the time he was asking us to pray so that God will bless us in everything we do,” she said.

The suspect hired tents and chairs for a ceremony to launch the project on September 14.

He even went to a construction company for a quotation for the construction of the new school buildings where the cost was projected at M1.6 million.

In the end the suspected conman did not turn up for a meeting scheduled to put final touches for the launch ceremony and the delivery of the vehicles.

After failing to contact him on his mobile phone Tšoeli reported the matter to the police.

Police spokesperson Inspector Thato Ramarikhoane confirmed the incident.

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