Former high school bursar jailed for R2.3m theft

31 August 2018 - 10:44 By Asanda Nini
Merle Laity was sentenced to six years in prison.
Merle Laity was sentenced to six years in prison.
Image: iStock

Former Cambridge High School assistant bursar Merle Laity was on Thursday sentenced by the East London regional court to six years in prison for stealing more than R2.3m from the school.

Regional court magistrate Deon Rossouw told Laity‚ 56‚ that two of the six years would be suspended if she paid back R625‚000 to the school.

Laity‚ who was earlier this year found guilty by Rossouw of eight counts of theft and one of fraud‚ was also sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment for the fraud conviction. The sentences will run concurrently.

The theft took place over a period of five years.

The crime was first exposed in 2009 when the school‚ according to a recent court testimony of former headmaster Grassy Buitendag‚ struggled to pay staff salaries and its creditors – a situation which forced them to consider “investigating the possibility of making short-term bridging loans”.

Former school bursar Gerda de Wet‚ who stole almost R3m‚ was sentenced to eight years behind bars.

Rossouw said Laity had planned the theft “very meticulously” and “covered her tracks very well”.

“You must have known that De Wet was stealing but you did not stop that‚ but allowed it by turning a blind eye to such criminal activities. All you did was to join in."

- DispatchLIVE