Fraud accused hysterical after acquittal

Cape Town - A woman who was acquitted of defrauding the Road Accident Fund became hysterical in the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court on Tuesday and disrupted proceedings.

Johanna Magdalena Serfontein, 49, seemed stunned and speechless when Magistrate Sabrina Sonnenberg told her she was free to go.

File photo. Credit: INDEPENDENT MEDIA

As she stood in the dock looking down, she started weeping hysterically, and seemed as though she was about to collapse.

The magistrate told her for the second time that she could go, and then adjourned proceedings to avoid chaos.

As Serfontein struggled out of the dock on crutches, assisted by her husband, she exclaimed loudly: “Thank you God, thank you Jesus, I love you Jesus, oh, how I love you Jesus!”

Her husband, also in tears, remarked: “It's not nice to be falsely accused.”

A relieved Serfontein hugged her lawyer Legal Aid attorney Hayley Lawrence and then continued to wail and thank Jesus loudly, as she moved slowly down the passage from the courtroom.

According to the charge sheet, Serfontein had allegedly reversed her Toyota Hilux into a car parked in public parking at the Kuils River branch of Nedbank in November 2009.

According to prosecutor Annette de Lange the damage was minimal but through attorneys specialising in RAF claims she had claimed R155 745 from the RAF.

The magistrate said Serfontein had previously succeeded with a similar RAF claim, but the RAF rules had since changed and claims of this kind were no longer accepted.

The RAF had in fact declined Serfontein's claim, Sonnenberg said.

She said the case was based on circumstantial evidence and to find her guilty the inference drawn from the circumstances “that she had knowingly lodged an unacceptable claim” had to be the only inference that could reasonably be drawn.

Sonnenberg said there were other possibilities, one being that she was not aware that the rules had changed.

For this reason, Serfontein was given the benefit of the doubt.