On welfare for 22 years

Stuff reports:

Waikato’s worst benefit fraudster says she never spent a cent of the nearly $300,000 she stole on herself.

Huntly woman Ruth Pitovao Pomate, 46, who was sentenced to nearly three years’ jail yesterday, says she was under pressure to provide for not only her six children, but also her parents over the 22-year period she stole $296,000 from the taxpayer.

Pomate told the Waikato Times before she was put behind bars that she was not “a bad person” and was trying to do her best for her family.

She said had never spent a cent on herself and didn’t even own her own clothes.

Pomate now holds the dubious title of Waikato’s worst benefit fraudster after exceeding the total clocked up by Sokha Ly who was in August jailed for defrauding $220,000 over a 12-year period.

The Huntly District Court heard how Pomate was first granted a sickness benefit in 1992 before going on to receive the domestic purposes benefit from 1996 through to January 14, this year.

The fraud is of course criminal, and it is appropriate she has been prosecuted.

But for me it is equally an issue that even without the fraud, she has spent 22 years on welfare. It appears she has not worked since 1992.

Before going into court, Pomate stressed that she was not a bad person.

“I have already told my kids that it is going to be embarrassing for them. But they also know that I never did it for me, it’s always been for them so that they always have a home.”

Or she could have got a job.

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