It was like ‘kicking bleeding man’

2012-04-27 00:00

THE theft of R1,2 million from her employer by conveyancing secretary Candida du Plessis (34) was comparable to kicking a bleeding man while he was down and stealing his wallet.

This was said in the regional court yesterday by Jeremy Brink, a director of Shackleton Risk Management, which had insured Stowell & Company from which the money was stolen.

Brink said his company is aware of an “alarming increase” in the theft of money by secretaries of law firms in the Pietermaritzburg area of late and urged regional magistrate Jennifer Anthoo to send a “very clear message that it won’t be tolerated”.

“People like the accused who grossly abuse the trust of their employer should not be heard to say that crime pays,” Brink said.

Brink said on the previous occasion this case was in court he had been aware of four incidents of theft by law firm employees in the city involving some R5 million, and since then a fifth has come to light.

The thefts were potentially ruinous for firms and had a huge impact.

As far as insurers were concerned increases in this type of offence would lead to a rise in premiums.

Also affected are remuneration and bonuses payable to other staffers in the affected firm.

“Shackleton Risk Management has suffered a loss in excess of R2 million as a direct result of criminals like the accused,” he said.

He said his firm paid out R800 000 to Stowell & Company to cover Du Plessis’s theft.

While he agreed with defence advocate Gideon Scheltema SC there were probably loopholes in the system at Stowell & Company that enabled Du Plessis to steal the money over three years, that was no excuse.

In his view “inner vice and dishonesty” were to blame for this type of crime, he said.

He said as a senior and experienced employee, Du Plessis had a duty to her employer to report potential “gaps” in the system, not exploit them. Her conduct was the same as kicking a “bleeding man while he is down and stealing his wallet”.

Brink said he personally had been “flabbergasted” at the lack of remorse shown by Du Plessis for her actions. She had tried to lay the blame on the company, and opposed efforts to recover any of the stolen money, including an application to sequestrate her estate.

Du Plessis is to be sentenced on May 14.

Scheltema urged the court to have regard to the interests of her young child, in light of recent judgments by the Constitional Court and Supreme Court of Appeals, which ruled that children should not be punished for the sins of their parents.

He also submitted that “protected evidence” led in camera by a psychologist on Du Plessis’s behalf paints a “very sad and disturbing picture” of her.


Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.