Sick woman may appeal

2018-05-07 16:41
Thatheni Dulce Zondi in court on a previous occasion.

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

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A cancer patient who was given a five-year jail term for fraud was on Friday granted leave to appeal against the sentence.

Thatheni Dulce Zondi (61), director of the Thatheni Women’s Construction company, had defrauded the South African Revenue Services between 2007 to 2011 of over R11 million.

Pietermaritzburg regional court magistrate Ntsoaki Khakane said after listening to argument by the state and defence that leave to appeal should be granted.

Regarding Zondi’s application for bail pending the hearing of the appeal, however, Khakane declined to hear the application herself. She said it was “in the interests of justice” that she recuse herself from listening to it because of “things” she was aware of relating to the case. She did not elaborate on this.

A date will be arranged some time this week for another magistrate to hear the application.

In arguing that leave to appeal be granted, Zondi’s advocate Thembinkosi Nene said that the magistrate over-emphasised the offence and did not attach sufficient weight to the fact that she was at the “terminal stage of cancer”.

He added the condition was irreversible. Nene said there were “insufficient facilities” in prison to cater for a cancer patient.

“Five years is grossly unfair, inappropriate and induces a sense of shock.”

He added the court has also “over-emphasised” the seriousness of the offence.

Nene said that sending Zondi to jail, where there were no facilities to care for her, will be like “subjecting her to death”.

State advocate Selvan Govender countered that a Correctional Services official had testified there were “sufficient” facilities to cater for the needs of cancer patients in prison.

At the moment there were seven cancer patients at Westville Prison and they were being cared for 24 hours a day by two nurses.

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

Zondi, who had pleaded guilty, said that her company entered into joint agreements with five other construction companies. The purpose of securing contracts and engaging in joint ventures was to empower women in the Mpumalanga township area to actively engage in community projects.

Profits from the tenders the companies got were paid into joint venture bank accounts and also used on the construction projects.

She admitted that it was her sole responsibility to ensure that the relevant documentation relating to the compilation of VAT returns and the provision of income tax was forwarded to her accountant or SARS.

In filing them, she reflected the wrong amounts so that she could defraud the taxman. She also reflected her gross income being much less than what it was.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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