Bail for sick fraudster

2018-05-10 16:00
Thatheni Dulce Zondi in court on a previous occasion. (Nhlanhla Nkosi)

Thatheni Dulce Zondi in court on a previous occasion. (Nhlanhla Nkosi)

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The sickly fraudster Thatheni Dulce Zondi, who was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, has been granted R20 000 bail on strict conditions.

Zondi, the wife of Inkosi Nsikayezwe Zondi of the Mpumuza Tribal Authority, was ushered into court lying on a wheeled stretcher bed, under the watchful eye of paramedics and correctional services officials. During previous appearances, she attended in a wheelchair.

Pietermaritzburg magistrate Naseem Cassim has placed her under house arrest until the appeal against the sentence is heard, although a date has not yet been set.

Cassim has only permitted the 61-year-old woman to leave home for medical treatment, church and religious ceremonies. He said that if her appeal is unsuccessful, she has to hand herself over to the clerk of the city’s regional court within 48 hours.

Having regard to all the factors before him, including that the state was not opposing the bail application, he said it was in the interest of justice bail be granted.

Zondi, the director of the Thatheni Women’s Construction company, had pleaded guilty to defrauding SARS of over R11 million between 2007 and 2011. This was in regard to submitting false VAT returns and understating her gross income.

Zondi’s advocate, Thembinkosi Nene, on Wednesday read out her affidavit in support of bail. In it, she said she has been staying at the Mpumuza address for more than 30 years.

Following her arrest five years ago, Zondi was on warning until sentence was imposed. She said she always went to court when she was supposed to. She said she will not commit fraud if granted bail, she is not a flight risk and her family is well known in her community. “All my family and emotional ties are in Pietermaritzburg and surrounding areas.”

Zondi said she was aware of the gravity of the offence and will face the possible consequences rather than become a fugitive for the rest of her life.

“I am terminally ill and in all likelihood my lifespan has been shortened.”

Last week she was granted leave to appeal the sentence.

Nene argued then that the trial court magistrate, Ntsoaki Khakane, over-emphasised the offence and did not attach sufficient weight to the fact that Zondi was at a “terminal stage of cancer”.

He said her condition was irreversible and that there were “insufficient facilities” in prison to cater for a cancer patient. “Five years is grossly unfair, inappropriate and induces a sense of shock.”

But state advocate Selvan Govender countered that there were “sufficient” facilities to cater for the needs of cancer patients in prison.

He said the sentence, if anything, “borders on being too lenient”.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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