Cape Town - A former attorney has been sentenced to 10 years’ direct imprisonment by the Bellville Commercial Crimes Court.
Rugaya van der Schyff, 57, was arrested by the Hawks Commercial Crime Investigation team in October last year on allegations of fraud and theft of more than R500 000.
Directorate of Priority Crimes spokesperson Zinzi Hani said: “She was struck off the roll of attorneys in 2017after an interdict application lodged in 2016, and was subsequently arrested on March 28, 2019 for misappropriating almost R4.8 million from a trust fund. She allegedly misled the community, which resulted in their financial detriment.”
At the time, Van der Schyff was released on bail of R20 000. She continued to practise as an attorney and conveyancer using her professional knowledge to assist clients when she did not have the authority to do so.
“The Hawks investigation showed that she continued facilitating offers to purchase several properties from 2019 to date, knowing full well she was disbarred from practising as an attorney by the Western Cape High Court.
“The misappropriation was done in her professional capacity as an additional duty of care and diligence in dealing with the transfer of properties and the Registrar of Deeds,” she said.
Van der Schyff was sentenced to a combined 10 years’ imprisonment for two counts of money laundering and four years for contravening the Legal Practice Act (LPA) 28 of 2014.
In addition, she received a “guilty” verdict on nine counts of fraud and 30 counts of theft.
“The former attorney was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment, while an additional three years’ imprisonment was suspended for five years on an additional count of theft.
“The court ordered that all sentences imposed should be served concurrently. Van der Schyff will effectively serve 10 years of direct imprisonment,” Hani said.