Former sheriff in court for alleged fraud

2015-04-02 19:23

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Cape Town - A former sheriff based in the Khayelitsha in Cape Town, “always tried hard to ensure her practice was in accordance with the rules”, a court in Cape Town heard on Thursday.

Former sheriff Sylvia Yon has pleaded not guilty to alleged fraud, relating to the alleged theft of trust monies.

Yon faces 14 charges involving R940 739.

She appeared before magistrate Sabrina Sonnenberg, in the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court.

A former compliance official with the South African Board of Sheriffs, Candice Petersen, told the court that sheriffs could not practice without fidelity fund certificates issued by the board.

These certificates were authorised in January of each year, and only if the sheriff had complied with numerous obligations throughout the previous year.

One of the obligations was that sheriffs kept a trust bank account.

Her duty as compliance official was to investigate complaints against sheriffs, and to refer those that were justified to the head of the board’s legal section, she said.

A complaint against any particular sheriff would first be referred to the sheriff in question for his or her response, and if the complaint had merit it would be passed on to the legal section to decide on the next step.

A sheriff who had failed to comply with any obligation, would be given two weeks to do so, and would be warned of a fine for failure to comply.

Sheriffs could be fined up to R10 000 in terms of the Sheriffs’ Act, she said.

In December 2010 Yon was fined the maximum for several violations, which included a qualified audit report.

An inspection of her premises was conducted as a result of the audit report, and it was later decided to charge her criminally with non-compliance, she said.

Petersen said the Sheriffs Board also assisted sheriffs with “challenges” relating to their practices.

Prosecutor Simone Liedeman said one of Yon’s challenges was a mortgage debit order that was linked to Yon’s trust account.

The prosecutor asked if Yon had discussed this with Petersen, and whether Petersen had told Yon that the stop order was “okay”, as Yon alleged.

Petersen replied: “I don’t recall ever saying that, and if she had mentioned this to me I would have immediately referred it to the legal manager.”

Cross-examined by legal aid defence lawyer Hayley Lawrence, Petersen said sheriffs in general had many problems relating to their practices.

Petersen added: “Yon spoke to me often about her challenges, and always sounded very sincere.

“I always got the impression that she was doing her very best to ensure that all was right.”

The case continues on May 21.

Read more on:    cape town  |  fraud  |  crime

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