The High Court in Pretoria last week dismissed an appeal by Reinette Wright (47) against a Pretoria magistrate’s refusal to grant her bail pending her trial on a charge of murdering a police officer and numerous charges of fraud.
Judge Legodi Phatudi found that Wright was a flight risk and that the interest of justice did not permit her to be released on bail pending trial.
Wright’s husband Hendrik (64) died in a Pretoria hospital in October, four moths after first shooting dead a police officer, Warrant Officer Ben Strydom, during his arrest and thereafter shooting himself in the head on being cornered by the police.
Wright and her secretary Salomé Klopper (54) face over 40 charges of fraud and a warrant of arrest was also issued at Ludsville in the Northern Cape for similar offenses.
She also faces a charge of murder in connection with the policeman’s death.
Wright and her late husband operated a business called Zambezi Tours and Safaris.
They allegedly advertised holiday packages, including train trips, in newspapers but cancelled the trips shortly before departure without paying back their clients, who were mostly pensioners.
When clients demanded their money back, they allegedly became untraceable.
The police arrested the women after a tip off that they were about to flee the country for Namibia.
Further investigations revealed that Wright owned no fixed property and did not have a fixed address or employment, although she had two passports.
Although she claimed to live at a camping site in Bela-Bela, her name was not among the residents.
The State opposed bail after it was revealed that Wright had paid over half a million rand into her Namibian bank account.
Judge Phatudi said the magistrate had correctly found Wright to be a flight risk and not likely to stand trial if she was granted bail.