Bookkeeper jailed for theft in Cape Town

A bookkeeper was jailed for eight years by the Specialised Commercial Crime Court in Bellville on Thursday.

Barbara Aletta Kuhn, 47, was sentenced on 91 counts of theft involving R1.4m.

According to the charge sheet, she was engaged as bookkeeper by two companies owned by Ivar Kvale.

Magistrate Sabrina Sonnenberg agreed with prosecutor Jannie Knipe that Kuhn had abused a position of trust, which called for a prison sentence.

She also agreed with Knipe that white collar crime was difficult to expose, as it was perpetrated by intelligent people who devised schemes to cover their tracks.

The magistrate said prison sentences were not reserved for the punishment of violent crime, and that the message to the community had to be that offenders involved in white collar crime also went to jail.

Kuhn manipulated the electronic accounting system connecting both businesses between December 2006 and February 2007, and was arrested in Gauteng in November 2007.

Her attorney Hailey Lawrence told the court Kuhn was a gambling addict, and had resorted to theft because her salary could not support her gambling habits.

Kuhn qualified for the minimum sentence of 15 years, as a first-time offender found guilty of fraud involving more than R500 000.

The magistrate rejected her gambling addiction as a reason to deviate from the prescribed sentence, but said Kuhn had shown remorse by admitting to the 91 counts.

The fact that she was a first-time offender, and had been honest with the court, were accepted as substantial and compelling factors to deviate from the prescribed sentence, she said.

The magistrate said a suspended prison sentence was too lenient, as was a sentence involving an early release and house arrest.


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