Cape Town orphanage manager intends fleeing SA amid fraud, possible sex assault charges, court hears

2019-07-17 13:32
The Western Cape High Court in Cape Town. (Paul Herman, News24)

The Western Cape High Court in Cape Town. (Paul Herman, News24)

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The manager of a Cape Town orphanage, who faces fraud and corruption allegations, allegedly told a whistleblower that she would flee South Africa forever if things went wrong for her, the Cape Town Magistrate's Court heard on Wednesday.

Opposing the 49-year-old's release on bail, prosecutor Adiel Jansen told Magistrate Reaz Khan that the witness had made a detailed statement to this effect.

He withheld their identity and read out a portion of the statement: "[The accused] told me that if things don't go right for her in South Africa, she is moving back to Nigeria with her husband... and will never return to South Africa."

Jansen said detectives were also told about the manner in which she intended fleeing, details which were sensitive at this stage.

Defence lawyer Andre Johnston wanted to know the identity of the witness as they would dispute their evidence.

"Was it a person who worked at the orphanage and was dismissed? The answer is probably yes," Johnston said.

"I want to get proper instructions as to if there is some or other motive held against this accused. And I strongly suspect there is."

The accused faces charges of conspiracy to commit fraud and three of contravening the Immigration Act.

She is not being named as she also faces potential sexual offence charges, the prosecution said during her first appearance. Other charges are expected to be added soon. She will be named once she has pleaded.

The social development department removed 17 children from the centre after allegations of physical and sexual abuse surfaced. 

News24 previously reported the department had co-ordinated efforts to reunite the children with their "immediate" families after the centre was shut down.

Another arrest

On Tuesday morning, a second employee of the orphanage was arrested, this time for sexual assault, the sexual grooming of a child and two charges of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, police spokesperson Captain FC van Wyk said.

The 26-year-old was released on bail and would appear in court again on September 27.

"The whole deck of cards has come crumbling down on the accused," Jansen argued.

Not only were there indications that she would flee, there was also a big question mark around her income and she had a previous fraud conviction and suspended sentence over her head.

"It shows that at the end of the day, and this is the crux of the matter, there is no more orphanage, so no more income, and her lifestyle cannot be maintained... she is selling up."

He said she had two South African passports.

"There are many ways to flee from South Africa, not only by legitimate means. Take note of how many foreigners illegitimately, illegally enter our country," Jansen said.

"Our borders are porous. It's a fact."

Johnston countered saying the presumption of innocence was important.

The court would deliver judgment in the bail application on Tuesday.

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