Secretary granted R1?000 bail on charge of stealing R1 mln from law firm

2011-11-17 00:00

A FORMER conveyancing secretary was arrested yesterday in connection with a charge that she stole more than R1 million from her former employers, Stowell & Co Incorporated.

Candida du Plessis (39) appeared in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court before magistrate Reard Abrahams and was granted bail of R5 000 yesterday afternoon.

She was not asked to plead to a charge that she stole R1 135 594,73 from the law firm between 2008 and July of this year.

Prosecutor Sally Singh said the state was not opposed to Du Plessis being given bail.

Du Plessis’s advocate, Gideon Scheltema SC, submitted that she is not a flight risk, had co-operated with the authorities during the investigation and had undertaken not to interfere with state witnesses.

Du Plessis gave brief testimony in which she detailed personal circumstances relevant to her bail application,

 She said that she had lost her job as a result of the case.

She said she had worked for three law firms during her career.

She is a mother of a young child, has lived in KwaZulu-Natal for 19 years and has family in Pietermaritzburg.

Her passport has expired and she has no intention of applying for a new one, she told Abrahams.

Du Plessis said she had handed herself over to the police and co-operated with the investigating officer since being accused of stealing the money in July.

The case was postponed until January 16 for further investigation.

The allegations facing Du Plessis were first publicised in October when Stowell & Co Incorporated brought a civil application in the high court to provisionally sequestrate her estate in a bid to recover money that the firm said she had stolen.

In an affidavit filed in the high court a director of the firm, Neil Painter, said the theft was uncovered when Du Plessis went away on leave.

He said Du Plessis was confronted about the matter on July 28 and resigned the same day.

He alleged she had “squandered” the money she stole and was not able to repay any.

In her replying affidavit at the time, Du Plessis said she had been advised by her lawyers not to reply to the allegations due to the ongoing criminal investigation.

• ingrido@witness.co.za

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