Former KZN school headmaster loses bid to slash fraud charges

2017-08-30 21:22
Former Glenwood High School headmaster Trevor Kershaw. (Glenwood High School website)

Former Glenwood High School headmaster Trevor Kershaw. (Glenwood High School website)

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Durban – Former Glenwood High School headmaster Trevor Kershaw, who is accused of defrauding the school out of more than R5m, has failed to convince a magistrate that he will not get a fair trial.

On Wednesday, Durban Specialised Commercial Court Magistrate Judy Naidoo ruled that the charge sheet and further particulars supplied by the State were sufficient for Kershaw to know the nature of the 1 624 counts against him and the evidence that the State would use against him.

The charges he faces involve alleged reimbursements he made to himself in cash or through electronic transfers using "home-made" invoices.

Kershaw, through his legal team, attorney Carl van der Merwe and advocate Gideon Scheltema, SC, launched the challenge against the charge sheet on the day the trial was to begin.

They argued that they had been swamped with thousands of documents in electronic form which they could not link to specific charges.

They also sought to exclude evidence of key witnesses, including forensic auditor Eckhard Volker, accusing him of being impartial.

Delaying tactic

But prosecutor Wendy O’Brien labelled the application as a delaying tactic "designed to collapse and avoid the trial".

She said "the truth" was that the defence never intended to be ready for trial – nor in proceeding with it at all – and if they could exclude Volker’s report "they would have achieved their purpose".

In her ruling, Naidoo said every accused had the right to a fair trial and to be given sufficient information in order to prepare a defence.

She said in this matter, it was clear that the charges involved several acts of misrepresentation over a long period of time and that there was no confusion or vagueness about this.

"He should know the case he had to meet.

"When there are a multiplicity of charges, there will be voluminous documentation….this is not the first case of this nature in a court of law."

'Trial getting nowhere'

She noted that Kershaw had been given the final charge sheet more than a year ago and the defence had indicated in October last year that they would be ready for trial this month.

"They have had sufficient time to peruse all the documents.

"It is also not unusual in these matters to use a forensic analysis when often the police don’t have the expertise or the manpower."

Scheltema said they would now take the ruling on review to the High Court, which could take many more months.

"This trial is getting nowhere," Naidoo said, postponing the matter until October for an update on progress and, possibly, another pre-trial application.

Kershaw, 56, was the principal of the school from 2000 until December 2015.

He was arrested in April last year.

Read more on:    durban  |  fraud  |  crime

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