A former estate agent and wife of a Democratic Alliance (DA) councillor has been sentenced to an effective eight years imprisonment for theft involving almost R900,000.
Forty-three year old Yvette Greyling appeared in the Port Elizabeth Commercial Crimes court on Thursday. She was accompanied by family members and her husband Francois who is a DA councillor for the Despatch area.
Both husband and wife were seen fighting back tears and at one point Francois got up to hand her a handkerchief as she wept in the dock.
Greyling who was the founder and manager of Just Letting in Uitenhage previously pleaded guilty to the charges against her which related to her stealing a sum of R880,150.23 from her clients’ rental accounts between 2013 and 2014.
In mitigation of sentence, her lawyer Anlen Murray indicated that Greyling had made various loans from family members and banks in attempt to pay the money back, but could not recover the actual loss.
Murray said the only suitable sentence would be that of direct imprisonment given the period of time over which the theft continued as well as the fact that clients’ trust had been breached.
State Prosecutor Ulrike De Klerk commended Greyling for taking responsibility for her actions.
“She seems to be taking responsibility for her actions, not only from her guilty plea but the way in which she tried to recover the loss, also in how she started to prepare and make arrangements for the well-being of her children, even before she pleaded guilty,” said De Klerk
However, De Klerk stated that there was no other suitable sentence besides that of direct imprisonment and outlined that 137 tenants were placed in a position where deposits were no longer available to them.
“The mere handing over of a debt for recovery does not automatically guarantee the full repayment of the debt… the offence was clearly repetitive and well thought-out,” De Klerk said.
Magistrate Louis Claassen acknowledged that Greyling had shown remorse and that she had made arrangements for her children, even prior to her guilty plea.
Claassen said that this made it more difficult for the court to come to decision but despite her efforts, insisted that the law had to be followed.
“The courts have to take the community into consideration, courts have to send a message that white collar crimes are taken seriously,” Claasen said.
He noted that the minimum sentence for a first time offender was 15 years imprisonment involving an amount of theft of over R500,000.
Meanwhile, speaking after court proceedings, Greyling’s mother in-law, Marietjie Steenkamp told African News Agency (ANA) that they respected the law, however she questioned why the Just Letting Head Office did not intervene earlier.
“There are so many unanswered questions as far as the head office goes – they let her down. The head office did annual audits, they knew she was in trouble but they let it carry on. The question is why didn’t Just Letting, the franchise, intervene earlier? I blame them for not intervening. It’s a very sad day for us, her children are going to miss her.” said Steenkamp.
-African News Agency (ANA)