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Magistrate raps lax security as bank teller goes free

A Harare magistrate took a swipe at Stanbic Bank for its shambolic security system before acquitting a chief teller, Aaron Rashama, who was accused of stealing $164 000 from the bank.

Banks are currently limiting withdrawals to between US$30 and US$100 per day
Banks are currently limiting withdrawals

Regional magistrate Mr Elijah Makomo acquitted Rashama last week after ruling that he was not the sole custodian of keys to the bank’s cash vault.

In his ruling, Mr Makomo said Rashama’s defence outline showed a total collapsed security system at the bank.

“It shows a rampant disregard for standard operating procedures opening possibilities of other people stealing the money,” said Mr Makomo.

“Investigation by the police leaves a lot to be desired whether it was deliberate or pure ineptitude, one cannot tell. It was alleged that the Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) footage showed the accused entering the vault but no one cared to bring the evidence before the court.

“It is alleged there were $1 notes between bundles of money yet the bank went ahead and used that money.

“The level of wanton disregard of strict observance within the bank was at a grand scale, opening the possibility of collusion by all involved to steal the money.”

The court heard that Rashama was based at Stanbic Bank at the intersection of Sam Nujoma Street and Julius Nyerere Way in Harare.

He was in charge of the cash vault and his duties included ‘cashing and deposits’, vault custody, foreign exchange and query resolution, among others.

It was alleged that on January 18 last year, Rashama received and signed for $245 060 and $14 173, 75 vault and canister cash respectively.

The court heard that the money reflected in Rashama’s cash register and the bank’s computer system.

He worked as usual until May 24, when he reported for work, but left immediately without the branch manager’s permission.

On realising that Rashama had taken too long to return, the branch manager, Ms Joyce Mhlanga, phoned him on his mobile phone, but the phone went unanswered and was later on switched off.

Ms Mhlanga notified the head of financial crime control, Mr Continue Mudekwa, and the investigations manager, Mr Stanley Shaninga.

The pair visited the branch and noticed that Rashama had not yet returned and had also taken with him keys to the vault and canister.

Ms Mhlanga was instructed to take the spare keys to open the vault and canister .

It was discovered that $4 252 was in the vault instead of $154 560 reflecting in the cash register.

In the canister there was $3 323 instead of $20 404 also reflecting in the cash register.

It was alleged that the sealed bundles Rashama was keeping in the vault were made up of $1 instead of $100, $50 and $20 notes.

Noticing the discrepancies, the bank reported the matter to police on Africa Day.

The bank lost $164 389 and nothing was recovered. The Herald

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