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Cape Town - An Uitzicht woman has been sent to jail for seven years for defrauding Wynberg Girls’ High School of about R500 000.
This came four years after she was sentenced for a similar crime.
Tracy van der Westhuizen pleaded guilty to 124 counts of fraud in the Bellville Commercial Crimes Court after striking a plea deal with the State on Monday.
Van der Westhuizen, 40, had worked at the school as an admin clerk from June 2008, and managed the daily receipt and banking of hostel fees, school fees and the purchase of school clothing, among other things.
But Van der Westhuizen admitted she did not bank the money, made fictitious journal entries, did not issue receipts for payments made, and did not keep proper accounting records.
She confessed to misappropriating R503 280.90 over 15 months, using the money for her benefit.
The amounts paid to Van der Westhuizen ranged between R70 and R20 500.
In some instances up to 32 payments were made in one day.
Van der Westhuizen resigned from the school in August last year and was arrested on December 11.
The aggravating factors taken into account included that Van der Westhuizen started to defraud the school directly after she had been sentenced for a similar crime; she was not a first offender; she had been in a position of trust; the money could not be recovered; and some degree of planning was involved in committing the offence.
In mitigation, Van der Westhuizen said she had had a traumatic childhood, suffered from depression and was receiving treatment from Claremont Psychiatric Clinic.
Van der Westhuizen also showed remorse, and she was married with two children.
After reading the agreement, magistrate Sabrina Sonnenberg sentenced Van der Westhuizen to 10 years in jail with three years suspended for five years on condition that she was not convicted of a similar offence.
In addition, a three-year suspended prison sentence, imposed in July 2009 in the earlier case, was put into operation on Monday as Sonnenberg found Van der Westhuizen had violated the condition that she should not be convicted again of fraud or theft.
Sonnenberg ordered that the sentences run concurrently.
Van der Westhuizen, who had worked at a property company, was convicted of defrauding her former employer of more than R182 000 between September 2006 and May 2008. She had to repay the money and served one year of correctional supervision. She was also sentenced to three years’ imprisonment, conditionally suspended.