Trustee to track stolen money

2012-05-16 00:00

HIGH court Judge Shyam Gyanda yesterday provisionally sequestrated the estate of former conveyancing secretary Candida du Plessis, who stole R1 268 997 from her employers over three years.

The judge ruled that it was desirable for a trustee appointed in terms of the Insolvency Act to investigate what became of the stolen money, and said it would be to the advantage of her creditors if some of it could be recovered.

The judge said it had to be borne in mind that Du Plessis stands convicted of a crime of dishonesty.

Du Plessis alleged in an affidavit that she was “hopelessly insolvent” and that the stolen money had all been “frittered away” on hand-outs to family, friends and “needy people”, and in repaying her debt to Twiga Financial Services CC.

“What she says cannot be accepted at face value,” the judge said.

Du Plessis opposed the sequestration application and maintained that there were no assets in her estate.

But it was submitted on behalf of Stowell & Company that a trustee would be in the best position to investigate what had happened to the stolen money and to institute a possible claim against Twiga to recover money that Du Plessis had paid to the loan company; to investigate whether Du Plessis’s ex-husband benefited in any way, or whether there was any “collusion” to conceal assets.

Du Plessis was married to attorney Mornê du Plessis.

They divorced on November 8 last year.

Du Plessis said her liabilities totalled R1 464 997,23. This included her R1 268 997,23 debt to Stowell & Company, R3 500 she owed to Edgars, R10 000 she owed on a credit card, a personal loan of R18 000 and R2 500 she owed to Truworths.

Her assets — consisting of a tumble dryer, dishwasher, PVR decoder and two chairs — were worth a total of R5 200.

Du Plessis said she had sold her half-share in their Prestbury property (worth R12 500 after paying off the bond) to her former husband in terms of their divorce settlement, and a car worth R130 000 also belonged to him.

“I point out that there is nothing left from the money I took from the applicant [Stowell & Company],” she said.

Du Plessis said she used about R546 000 to repay her loan to Twiga Financial Services CC, and the remainder (about R700 000) was used up “mainly assisting people who were in need”.

The money was “frittered away” and used mainly to “bail out family, friends and even acquaintances”.

“I became known as a person from whom a hand-out was easy to get, so many people took advantage of my generosity,” she said.

A psychologist who testified at her criminal trial had examined the mental processes that had led to the situation, but this was not relevant to the sequestration proceedings, she said.

“Suffice to say … none of the money I took … remains in my hands,” she said.

Du Plessis pleaded guilty in the regional court earlier this year to stealing the money from Stowell & Company between July 2008 and July 2011.

She will be sentenced on June 1.

• ingrido@witness.co.za

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