The conviction of former headmaster at Glenwood High School Trevor Kershaw for fraud has been met with relief by the department of education.
Kershaw pleaded guilty last week to defrauding the school of more than R5 million, reports Berea Mail.
Commenting on the outcome of the case, education department spokesperson, Muzi Mahlambi, said it wasn’t pleasant for the department to part with any of its employees on the basis of misconduct.
“We are vindicated as a department that what we claimed as allegations have now been proven. What angers us is the time it has taken him to come to his senses to plead guilty,” he said, adding that Kershaw had initially denied he had done anything wrong.
“This should serve as a lesson to all our employees that they should conduct themselves in a manner that is befitting at all times. It might take time to discover that employees are engaging in such malpractices, but once we discover this, we will deal with them harshly as we have done with Mr Kershaw,” he said.
Kershaw pleaded guilty to defrauding the school out of more than R5.2 million through duplicated claims, homemade invoices and manipulated vouchers. A forensic investigation revealed that this took place between 2007 and 2016.
He will spend the next three years under correctional supervision and will be under house arrest for three years. He is required to do community service and attend rehabilitation programmes. He also has a 10-year suspended prison sentence hanging over his head.
A sum of R3 million, the cash value of Kershaw’s assets which were seized by the Asset Forfeiture Unit, will be released to the school.
Glenwood High School has also taken legal action against its former head and is suing Kershaw personally for damages relating to the 1,623 reimbursement claims he made and the cost to the school for a forensic audit to determine the extent of his fraud.
In a letter submitted to the court, current principal Dr Andri Barnes said the school had been under enormous financial pressure because of Kershaw’s fraud and its financial resources were now depleted.
She said over the past three years, the school had not replaced academic staff paid by the governing body in order to reduce its salary budget to make ends meet and keep the school operational. As a result, the number of boys per class had increased which had compromised its standards of excellence.
Speaking to Berea Mail, she said: “The school is relieved that there was not a long, drawn-out court case and we have put this behind us now. Resilience is in Glenwood’s DNA. The boys and their education remain our focus. We have been very grateful for the support of our loyal parents.”