Children’s shelter manager (47) given five-year jail term for fraud

2012-07-05 00:00

HIGH court judges of appeal have confirmed an effective five-year jail term, part of which will be served under correctional supervision, on a 47-year-old woman who stole from the company managing a children’s shelter and feeding scheme in Bruntville, Mooi River, during 2007.

In a reserved judgment, judge Jaqui Henriques, sitting with judge Phillip Nkosi, said offenders who commit white-collar crimes should not expect to escape a jail term.

“Simply because they do not involve crimes of violence does not mean that in appropriate circumstances a person who is involved in acts of dishonesty or who resort to it simply for self-enrichment, should not be sent to prison.”

Khanya Nzimande was found guilty by the Mooi River Magistrate’s Court on April 20 last year of five counts of fraud involving R183 451.

When she committed the crimes she was employed as a manager for Adventist Development and managed funds for a children’s shelter and feeding scheme.

“Funds were injected through a feeding scheme as well as foreign donors. She was in a position of trust and was in charge of funds intended for poor and needy persons. During her employment she had submitted invoices to her supervisor which had been falsified by increasing the amount thereof, and thus embezzled money from Adventist Development,” said Judge Henriques. Advocate R. Nirghin submitted on Nzimande’s behalf that the sentences imposed on her were unduly harsh having regard to her age, that she was a first offender and cared for her husband, a pensioner, and two orphaned children.

The sentences were imposed in terms of legislation that requires that one-sixth be served in prison and the remainder under correctional supervision. But Judge Henriques said in her judgment that the record was replete with instances that showed Nzimande did not accept the consequences of her actions.

When asked to plead she had denied any knowledge of the offences, and throughout her evidence it appeared she did not take responsibility for her actions, but seemed to blame others.

“There was even a suggestion by her that her manager conspired with others to pin this crime on her,” the Judge said.

A Correctional Services officer who prepared a pre-sentencing report for the trial court found she was not a suitable candidate for correctional supervision because she did not accept responsibility and did not show remorse.

The Judge said the magistrate did not simply consider the report but also called the correctional officer to explain his view.

In all the circumstances the appeal court found that the sentence imposed was not shockingly inappropriate, and confirmed it.

• ingrido@witness.co.za

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