Teacher who lied that she had cancer pleads guilty to fraud charges

2018-02-19 11:04
Vindra Jaickaran admitted to having lied to her employer, Cowan House Preparatory School, about having cancer. She pleaded guilty to 74 counts of fraud.

Vindra Jaickaran admitted to having lied to her employer, Cowan House Preparatory School, about having cancer. She pleaded guilty to 74 counts of fraud. (File)

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A former Cowan House Preparatory School teacher has pleaded guilty to defrauding the school of more than R2 million and to lying that she had cancer.

Vindra Jaickaran Chhoteylal Moodley (49) admitted to committing a total of 74 counts of fraud when she appeared in Durban’s specialised commercial crime court on Friday. She was known by the surname Jaickaran while at the school.

As part of her guilty plea she admitted that in April 2014 she lied to the school that she had been diagnosed with cancer and had only four months to live. She admitted that she had produced letters from doctors and the Grey’s Hospital Oncology Department confirming this.

“After convincing Cowan House that the cancer had spread and that I did not have long to live, I was allowed to take sick leave. I was paid my full salary.

“In my absence Cowan House employed a replacement teacher,” she said in court papers.

“Subsequent investigations revealed that I did not have cancer and that I was not a known patient at Grey’s Hospital Oncology Department and that the medical reports and letters supplied to Cowan House were forgeries”.

The former teacher’s modus operandi, as detailed in her guilty plea, was to either inflate legitimate amounts owed to Cowan House for services and divert the balance into her own account, or fabricate companies and get the school to pay money into her account.

In her capacity as an IT teacher she was involved in purchasing and maintaining computer hardware and procurement of software at the school.

She would write up invoices that charged Cowan House hundreds of thousands of rands at a time, and the funds would be put into accounts that were on her name. In one incident, an account was in the name of her son, Rushmir Chhoteylal.

Her fraudulent actions were uncovered when the school launched an internal investigation into dealings that Jaickaran was involved in with the school, after it caught wind of a fraudulent invoice in 2016.

Jaickaran then coerced Chhoteyal to make a statement taking responsibility for the fraudulent transaction. She admitted to writing up 73 fraudulent invoices, amounting to R2 099 290,58.

Jaickaran sat in the dock keeping her head down on Friday and occasionally shaking her head, as her lawyer, Pranil Rajcoomar, read out her guilty plea.

According to her plea the “actual loss suffered” by the school R1 765 290,20, as Cowan House received R334 000,38 back from some of the transactions Jaickaran was involved in.

She will appear again in April for a probation officer’s report to be submitted to the court ahead of sentencing, due to begin at the end of May.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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