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A man who claimed he was under the influence of a spiritual healer when he stole R3m from his employer has been granted leave to appeal against his 15-year jail sentence.

“The facts of the case are so bizarre that they cry out for a full investigation before the imposition of sentence. There was no probation officer’s report for the magistrate to consider,” the Supreme Court of Appeal said this week in its ruling allowing him to approach the High Court in Johannesburg.

Nedbank had employed Donald Khobane as an automated teller machine (ATM) consultant. His job was to replenish cash at nine ATMs in Johannesburg.

He absconded from work on July 30, 2013. After a few days, his supervisors became suspicious.

An inspection revealed more than R3m was missing from his machines. After his arrest in August 2013, Khobane confessed to police that he had come under the influence of a spiritual healer, who had told him he had a “symbol of wealth” in his hands.

According to Khobane, the healer told him that if he lent him as much money as possible, he would use it to “cleanse” him. The healer promised to return the money and that he would never again have financial problems.

Khobane took money to the healer twice, between July 30 and August 1, 2013.

He pleaded not guilty to theft. On September 4, 2014, Khobane was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

The SCA said the question of Khobane having been under the sinister influence of a “confidence trickster” had not been explored.

It said it did not appear that the trial court had warned him that, were he to be convicted, he faced a 15-year jail sentence, in terms of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, for theft exceeding R500 000.

“This court cannot, at this stage, make an order pertaining to how the question of sentence should be dealt with. It would have been in the interests of the State, the appellant [Khobane] and society if we could have set the sentence aside and directed that the magistrate consider the question of sentence afresh,” it said.