Bed backlog delays fraud trial

2013-08-12 23:06

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Cape Town – A "backlog" of beds at Cape Town's Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital delayed a fraud trial involving a paralegal graduate on Monday.

Chris Lodewyk, 46, was referred to the hospital for 30 days' observation but could not start the assessment until a bed became available, legal aid lawyer Hailey Lawrence told the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court.

Lodewyk, of Goodwood, faces eight counts - two of illegally practising as an attorney, one of practising as an attorney without the required Fidelity Fund Certificate, two of fraud, and three of theft.

Magistrate Sabrina Sonnenberg heard at his previous appearance that Lodewyk was number 180 on the waiting list.

At Monday’s proceedings prosecutor Valley Omar told the court the situation was unchanged, and asked for a postponement to 9 September.

Lodewyk was referred for psychiatric assessment after psychiatrist Wayne Sanders diagnosed severe depression. In a letter filed on the court record, Sanders said Lodewyk's depression was caused by an abusive relationship.

According to the charge sheet, Lodewyk practised as a paralegal in the name of Legal Max, and advertised himself on the website Gumtree.

On one fraud charge he allegedly unlawfully received R50 280 from client Richard Watkins, between 2008 and 2011, and R79 600 from another client Werner Schreuder, between 2010 and 2012, for legal work he did not do.

Watkins had a dispute with a motor dealership, and Lodewyk allegedly falsely informed him that the matter had gone to court and that the court had ruled in Watkins's, favour, with costs.

Schreuder allegedly engaged Lodewyk to appear for him in high court litigation, in Schreuder’s absence, which Lodewyk failed to do.

As a result, a civil judgment was granted against Schreuder, but the first that he knew about it - and of Lodewyk’s alleged failure to act for him - was a visit from the sheriff to attach Schreuder’s car.

False investment

On the second fraud charge Lodewyk allegedly obtained R216 000 for investment from Richard and Elizabeth Dickenson in 2008, after falsely informing them that he was a registered investment broker.

Lodewyk was to invest the money with First Stage Holdings, at between 16% and 18% interest per annum, but allegedly kept the money for himself.

The three theft charges are based on the fraud charges, involving the victims Watkins, Schreuder, and the Dickensons.

The remaining three charges involve alleged violations of the Attorneys Act.

The matter was postponed to 12 September.

Lodewyk's R25 000 bail was extended.

Read more on:    cape town  |  corruption

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