13 Feb 2019 15:20pm
WINDHOEK, 13 FEB (NAMPA) - A former accountant of a drilling company on trial in the Windhoek High Court on charges of massive fraud amounting to N.dollars 17 million, attempted to commit suicide over the weekend.
Stephanie Serfontein, 49, was scheduled to tender her guilty plea to 34 charges of fraud, alternatively theft and one count of money laundering before High Court Judge Kobus Miller Wednesday morning.
She was, however, absent before court following her failed attempt to end her life Sunday afternoon.
Advocate Louis Botes, who is representing her on the instructions of the Sarel Maritz law firm, said the accused is not in mental or physical condition to be present in court.
According to the defence lawyer, Serfonteins relatives were busy making arrangements to take her to a private psychiatric medical practitioner for observation on Wednesday or Thursday.
Furthermore, investigating officer, Detective Inspector Emilie Prada who visited the family house in Olympia on Wednesday also confirmed the suicide attempt before court and said she was emotional when he saw her.
Serfontein is free on a warning and her warning was revoked as per an order issued by Judge Miller, after which a warrant for her arrest was authorised.
The warrant for her arrest will only be executed by the police if she fails to appear before court during her next appearance scheduled for next Thursday.
Serfontein is charged in the matter alongside her ex-husband Izak Serfontein, 47, whose trial will be separated from that of his ex-wife after she tenders the guilty plea.
A summary of substantial facts contained in the charge sheet has it that Stephanie Serfontein defrauded her former employer, mining drilling contractor Ferrodrill Namibia, of about N.dollars 17 million while she was employed by the company as an accountant.
She stands accused of committing the fraud in 2008 and later in 2012 when she allegedly stole the money from the company's bank account and channelled the funds into the account of her ex-husband.
Another amount was allegedly channelled into an account of her daughter and into her personal bank account.
The couple initially faced charges of fraud involving N.dollars 3 million before it ballooned to N.dollars 17 million.
Izak Serfontein is still free on a warning. He is represented by Attorney Jan Wessels.
State Advocate Constance Moyo is appearing for the prosecution.