Schools of scandal as money vanishes
● A book-keeper charged with embezzling more than R1m from two top Western Cape schools has asked the state for a discounted sentence.
Jacqueline Struwig is facing fraud charges alongside her husband, Andre, and daughter, Nicole, in the Bellville specialised commercial crimes court.
Struwig, who worked at Rhenish Girls High School in Stellenbosch between 2007 and 2014, allegedly transferred money into her husband and daughter’s bank accounts, disguising the transactions as payments for “catering”, “prize-giving eats” and “interhouse”, among myriad other references.
She resigned from Rhenish in 2014 and got another job at nearby Stellenbosch High, where she allegedly continued with her fraudulent activities. According to court papers, Struwig stole the money in more than 100 unauthorised transactions over nine years. Eric Ntabazalila, a spokesperson for the director of public prosecutions in the Western Cape, said the plea and sentencing agreement by Struwig, her husband and their daughter had yet to be finalised.
“Her attorney and counsel indicated that she is prepared to accept a 10-year sentence,” said Ntabazalila. The agreement will be finalised at the family’s next court appearance in November.
The family’s lawyer, Calie Smit, said: “We are busy with certain negotiations with the state.”
In another matter, Westerford High School in Cape Town fired its bursar last month for allegedly stealing about R2.4m since 2012. In a letter to parents, the governing body said the bursar transferred the money into her personal account and was reported to the police.
This week, headmaster Rob le Roux said the bursar would be arrested.
“The case is pending. It is with the police at the moment,” he said.
“The gist of it is that this happened and the board let the parents know what measures were put in place. One was laying a charge with the police, the second one was getting an independent firm of auditors to do a forensic investigation on all our systems to see why it happened, and the third one was reporting it to the department of education.”
From left, Andre, Jacqueline and Nicole Struwig