Woman jailed for defrauding school of more than R500 000

A woman who defrauded the Wynberg Girls’ High School in Cape Town out of more than R500 000 has been jailed for in effect seven years.

Tracy van der Westhuizen (39) of Uitzicht in Cape Town’s northern suburbs, already faced a suspended prison sentence for a previous fraud offence.

She was sentenced in the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court by Magistrate Sabrina Sonnenberg today.

She pleaded guilty to 24 counts of fraud, involving R503 280 embezzled between December 11, 2011, and January 12, 2012.

Her trial took the form of a plea bargain, negotiated for her by legal aid attorney Hailey Lawrence.

Prosecutor Denver Combrinck told the court Van der Westhuizen was sentenced in July 2009 to three years imprisonment, conditionally suspended for five years, on 29 counts of fraud, by magistrate Amrith Chabillal.

One of the conditions was that she not commit fraud again during the period of suspension.

At Combrinck’s request, the three-year suspended sentence was also put into effect, but at the request of the defence, Sonnenberg ordered that it run concurrently with the seven year sentence.

According to the charge sheet, Van der Westhuizen was the school’s bursar, and perpetrated the fraud by not banking money received by the school each day.

She failed to issue receipts to each and every person, as their proof of payment.

According to the charge sheet, she also failed to indicate the methods of payments received, which made it difficult to reconcile the ledgers.

Often, when cash payments were made, she recorded the method of payment as being by bank card.

According to the charge sheet, she kept locker and music fees, money received for school clothing and photocopies, donations to the school, and the proceeds of fund-raising events.

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