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THEY met through mutual friends, and for 10 years they lived together as man and wife, also working together. But now Sarka van der Merwe, 49, is before the court, charged with fraud and theft involving almost R12 million. And the man she allegedly stole from, her “life partner”, 69-year-old Durban businessman Peter Odgers, is looking for a job.
Last week, Van der Merwe, who is living in Joburg, made her second court appearance in Durban’s specialised commercial crime court when it was placed on record that she wanted to plead guilty.
Twice-divorced, Czechoslovakian-born Van der Merwe stood in the dock as her attorney, Ricky Ramouthar, said the only dispute was the number of charges she would plead guilty to.
Prosecutor Wendy O’Brien said the State wanted a plea on the charge sheet, which details more than 1 400 charges.
The charge sheet is based on a forensic audit done by Eckhard Volker, who assisted property developer Odgers when he realised in 2010 that all his money was gone.
It alleges that from January 2006 to August 2010 Van der Merwe siphoned R11.7m from his various business accounts and credit cards.
Van der Merwe will appear in court again at the end of this month.