No jail for thieving receptionist

Cape Town - A receptionist formerly in the employ of a firm of tax consultants and accountants was sentenced to five years' correctional supervision on Thursday, for the theft of R472 493 over a period of five years.

Magrett Steenkamp, 38, of Paarl, appeared in the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court, and pleaded guilty to a charge of theft, before magistrate Sabrina Sonnenberg.

File photo. Credit: INDEPENDENT MEDIA

The proceedings took the form of a plea-bargain, negotiated between legal aid lawyer Hayley Lawrence and prosecutor Derek Vogel.

Her sentence requires her to serve one third of the five years in prison, after which she may be released into house arrest, at the discretion of the prison authorities.

Her duties as receptionist included the acceptance of payments from clients, and the issuing of receipts.

However, she only banked cheque payments as required, and kept cash payments for herself.

Aggravating factors were listed as the facts that she unlawfully enriched herself at the expense of her employer and that she abused a position of trust.

The magistrate declared the sentence as fair and just, and also pronounced her unfit to possess a firearm Ä routine procedure in serious cases involving fraud or theft.