DURBAN - The case against a KZN Blind and Deaf Society employee who was charged for allegedly defrauding more than R12million has been moved to the Durban Commercial Crimes Court.

Police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala confirmed that a 27-year-old woman was arrested and appeared in the Durban Regional Court in January.

The woman is believed to be out on bail and the matter was pending before court.

After The Mercury reported about the theft and the dire financial situation that the NPO found itself in, a number of concerned local residents made donations to the society to keep its doors opened.

One donor, who asked not to be named, said he gave an undisclosed amount towards its operations.

“The organisation has been around for many years and helps a lo t of blind and deaf people. The work that the society does, and has been doing for many years, should not be forgotten in these troubling times.

“The people who the society supports should not be forgotten in all this,” the donor said.

The organisation employs 70 staff and caters to the needs of about 4500 deaf and blind people in the province.

While the investigation continues, a public spat between former director Shamilla Surjoo and KZN Blind and Deaf Society president Zak Yacoob has become heated.

Surjoo was dismissed after being found guilty on charges of gross negligence, breach of fiduciary duties and loss of trust as it was alleged that the R12m was stolen on her watch.

However, Surjoo has denied any wrongdoing and has said she will fight her dismissal.

When contacted for comment yesterday, Yacoob said that he was instructed by the society’s executive committee not to speak to the media regarding Surjoo’s case.

In a statement sent to The Mercury, Surjoo accused Yacoob of “very tactfully” turning the spotlight onto her while the alleged perpetrator of the fraud “remains protected”.

“I am well respected and have enjoyed an upstanding position in the community which I have earned through more than three decades in the welfare sector.

“He has alleged that the money was stolen under my watch, but why has he not told you that I am also legally blind with a vision of 6/60 and I am a former pupil of the Arthur Blaxall School for the Blind.

“I am not a signatory to the bank mandates, investment redemptions or annual financial statement reports,” Surjoo said.

She accused Yacoob of allegedly offering her money “to make her go away” and drop her challenge at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.