Cancer con: ‘Abuse claim could be lies’

2018-05-23 06:00
Vindra Jaickaran at the Durban Specialised Commercial Crimes Court. PHOTO: Kerushun Pillay

Vindra Jaickaran at the Durban Specialised Commercial Crimes Court. PHOTO: Kerushun Pillay

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THE woman who admitted to defrauding Cowan House Primary School was accused of fabricating a history of sexual abuse by her father to a psychiatrist to create mitigating circumstances when the time for trial came.

This emerged during the state’s cross examination of Dr Stewart Lund, the long-time psychiatrist of Vindra Jaickaran, who is being sentenced this week at the Durban Specialised Commercial Crimes Court.

Jaickaran was yesterday supported by family and friends. She occasionally burst into tears as witnesses were cross examined.

Jaickaran in February pleaded guilty to 73 counts of defrauding Cowan House, in which she swindled more than R2 million from the school.

She was a former IT teacher at the school.

She also admitted to lying to the school that she had cancer in April 2014, where she had even produced fabricated letters and medical reports from Grey’s Hospital’s Oncology Department.

Lund had led evidence that Jaickaran had told him that she suffered sexual and physical abuse between the ages of five and 15 by her father.

Lund had first treated Jaickaran between 1999 and 2003 for severe depression and suicidal tendencies.

He then saw her from June 2015 after a hiatus of 12 years.

He said that Jaickaran had a history of “major depressive disorder” and had tried to commit suicide several times.

He said, in answer to questions by Jaickaran’s attorney Pranil Rajcoomar, that Jaickaran had only told Lund about her father’s abuse in 2015 — after she was investigated for fraudulent activities.

He believed Jaickaran had carried out the acts of fraud during a “manic” period, brought on by a history of mental illness.

“During these periods people can act irresponsibly and even end up in fraudulent activity,” he said.

He admitted, however, to only assuming she was manic during her fraudulent spree, since she was not under his care during the time of the incidents.

“I am just trying to make sense of the fraud, and she has a history of depression and she could have been bipolar.”

Lund admitted that Jaickaran had, however, also lied to him that she had ovarian cancer.

State advocate Wendy O’Brien put it to Lund that she could have lied about the abuse by her father just as she had lied about the cancer.

“You saw her between 1999 and 2003 and she never mentioned it.

Is it not possible that she may have raised that [at a session in 2015] to defend herself knowing her father is dead and can’t make a rebuttal,” O’Brien said.

Lund conceded the abuse could have been a “possible lie” as he had not verified it.

He had earlier told the court that he did not believe Jaickaran should be imprisoned because psychiatric care in prisons was not always available.

O’Brien, however, disputed that, and said the state could call a witness to testify to the contrary.

Her modus operandi, as revealed in her guilty plea, was to either inflate legitimate amounts owed to Cowan House and divert the balance into her own accounts, or outright fabricate companies and get the school to pay money into her accounts.

In her capacity as an IT teacher, she was involved in purchasing and maintaining computer hardware, and procuring software.

She was caught when the school launched an internal investigation into transactions she was involved in.

She had initially tried to get her son, Rushmir Chhoteyal, to take the blame, her guilty plea said.

The trial continues.

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