Stringent bail for alleged SPCA defrauder

2017-01-10 09:57
Attorney Jacques Botha (left) consults with his client, former uMngeni SPCA public relations officer and fundraiser Tess Fernandez, at the Howick Magistrate’s Court on Monday morning.

Attorney Jacques Botha (left) consults with his client, former uMngeni SPCA public relations officer and fundraiser Tess Fernandez, at the Howick Magistrate’s Court on Monday morning. (Chelsea Pieterse)

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Pietermaritzburg - Howick woman Teresa “Tess” Fernandez, who was charged with defrauding the uMngeni SPCA, was released from police custody on R10 000 bail on Monday.

The former uMngeni SPCA public relations officer and fundraiser was charged by the SPCA for allegedly diverting to her account donations to the value of R321 000 meant for the uMngeni SPCA — before leaving the country.

Fernandez was allegedly exposed when Howick resident Karin Vickers called the SPCA asking for a tax certificate after she had donated a substantial amount of money.

The SPCA said the money had never reached its bank account and after an internal investigation, it was discovered Fernandez had allegedly transferred money meant for them into her personal account.

Fernandez left the country days before the charges were laid against her and was arrested two days after her return to South Africa in late December last year.

It was initially reported that Fernandez allegedly targeted pensioners at high-end retirement villages where she would garner their trust in an attempt to procure monetary donations for the SPCA, but instead switched the account number to her own, while keeping the SPCA’s account name.

Fernandez first appeared in court on December 22 when the case was adjourned to January 9 without bail, meaning she spent both Christmas and New Year in jail.

On Monday, Fernandez appeared in the Howick Magistrate’s Court looking considerably calmer and less dishevelled than during her first appearance in December.

With her hair let down, a fresh white shirt tucked into slim-fitting brown pants and her make-up done, Fernandez entered the court in a composed manner, without the tears that flooded her first appearance.

Fernandez was granted bail at R10 000; however, the conditions of her bail are that she must report to the police station nearest to her residence three times a week.

She is not to leave the province without permission and is not allowed to leave the country or be near an airport or harbour.

Her passport is being kept by the police and she will not be allowed to apply for another.

Fernandez will be staying with her mother on the South Coast until her next court appearance on February 22.

uMngeni SPCA manager Dudu Abraham said the organisation was satisfied with the “stringent” bail conditions.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  spca

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