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Cape Town - A woman who defrauded her former employers of more that R 2.6 million used some of the money to pay for her lavish wedding.
Widaad Petersen, 29, of Athlone, cut a meek figure at the Bellville Commercial Crimes Court as she pleaded guilty to 192 counts of fraud and one count of money laundering on Tuesday.
The soft-spoken woman, represented by Legal Aid SA lawyer Haley Lawrence, received a 10-year sentence but will only serve six.
Four years of this sentence will be suspended for five years.
If she is convicted of a similar crime during these four years, she will be re-arrested.
Regional Court Magistrate Sabrina Sonnenberg found that the agreement was “just in its totality”.
“I am convinced that all of the elements of these offences have been addressed,” Sonnenberg told the court.
Petersen, a BComm Financial Accounting graduate from the University of Cape Town, was employed at Aquamarine Water Treatment in Muizenberg as a junior bookkeeper in August 2011.
In November 2011, she was promoted to a new position as senior bookkeeper.
She would transfer funds, thousands at a time, from the company’s account into her or her husband’s account.
She also defrauded the company by creating false payment entries on the accounting system to reflect payments into her accounts, as payments to suppliers.
During the April 2012 and February 2013 time period when her crimes were committed, she became more brazen and began transferring funds directly into the bank accounts of the contractors she had employed to organise her wedding.
In four transactions slugged “Adele Design – Wedding Dress”, she made a total payment of R16 500 from the company’s funds.
MI Events, a company that plans weddings, received a whopping R53 000.
Petersen also splurged on interior decorating with Indigo Fusion, as well as car payments and new furniture.
She also made numerous payments to a company called Festitec Investments, totalling almost R420 000.
The other transactions were made into her and her husband’s personal accounts.
The plea agreement makes mention of Petersen’s “extreme embarrassment” and loss of dignity.
“The accused is struggling to redeem herself in the eyes of her immediate family, who have endured tremendous humiliation as a result of the accused’s conduct,” it read.
Petersen also made no repayment to the company.
Petersen was taken into custody after the proceedings.