Cape Town - A psychiatric panel at the Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital has declared paralegal practitioner Chris Lodewyk fit to stand trial, a Cape Town court heard on Tuesday.
Lodewyk, 46, faces two counts of illegally practising as an attorney, one of practising as an attorney without the required Fidelity Fund Certificate, two of fraud, and three of theft.
He was not asked to plead when he appeared in the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court.
Legal aid attorney Hailey Lawrence told the court Lodewyk had been assessed as fit to stand trial, and that he was able to understand the wrongfulness of the alleged offences.
She said Lodewyk accepted the findings of the psychiatric panel, and she hoped to negotiate a plea-and-sentence agreement with State advocate R Valley-Omar of the Western Cape directorate for public prosecutions.
At Lawrence’s request, the matter was postponed to December 13
when she is expected to report on the progress of the negotiations.
Lodewyk’s R25 000 bail, granted earlier this year in the Goodwood Magistrate’s Court, was extended.
The proceedings have been delayed in recent months as Lodewyk waited for a vacant bed in the overcrowded Valkenberg hospital.
Lodewyk was referred for psychiatric assessment after private psychiatrist Wayne Sanders told the court he suffered from severe depression.
Sanders said Lodewyk had not suffered from depression at the time he allegedly committed the offences, and that the depression was the result of an abusive and manipulative personal relationship.
According to the charge sheet, Lodewyk practised as a paralegal in the name of Legal Max and advertised himself in Gumtree on the internet.
One fraud charge alleges that he received money from two different clients - Richard Watkins (R50 280 between 2008 and 2011) and Werner Schreuder (R79 600 between 2010 and 2012) - for legal work he did not do.
The second fraud charge alleges that Lodewyk obtained R216 000 for investment from Richard and Elizabeth Dickenson in 2008, after falsely informing them he was a registered investment broker.
The three theft charges are based on the two fraud charges involving the three alleged victims - Watkins, Schreuder, and the Dickenson couple.
The remaining three charges involve alleged violations of the Attorneys Act.