Clerk jailed, husband under house arrest for defrauding Saru of R3m

The couple moved the money between accounts in an attempt to obscure where it came from. Stock photo.

A clerk who defrauded the SA Rugby Union (Saru) of more than R3m will spend seven years behind bars and her husband must clean a police station for his role in the crime.

The Bellville specialised commercial crimes court sentenced Berenice Knockpaal and her husband Carlo this week after they were found guilty of fraud and money laundering.

Knockpaal, 44, was a clerk in Saru’s operations and finance department when they committed the crimes between 2014 and 2018.

“Her responsibilities included processing supplier invoices, reconciling supplier accounts and payment of suppliers. She substituted Saru’s supplier bank accounts with her husband’s bank accounts and paid R3.4m into the bank accounts,” said National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila.

They moved the money to different bank accounts to conceal where it came from.

Knockpaal was sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment for 147 counts of fraud and five years’ imprisonment for money laundering. She will serve an effective seven years behind bars after the court suspended half of the sentence.

She also forfeited her R153,787 pension from the Rugby Pension Fund. It will be paid into the bank account of the criminal asset recovery account. The court also declared her unfit to possess a firearm.

Carlo, 47, was slapped with a non-custodial three-year sentence which includes house arrest and 16 hours of correctional supervision per month. Carlo will perform cleaning and maintenance duties at the Diepriver police station. In addition, he is compelled to attend rehabilitation programmes and pay for them. He was also declared unfit to possess a firearm.

“He was also sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment for money laundering, wholly suspended for five years provided he is not convicted of fraud, theft and/or an attempt to commit any of these offences,” said Ntabazalila.

“The court was told that detection of the crimes was difficult and resulted in an extensive and laborious investigation. The NPA welcomed the sentence as it came at a time when it was strengthening its fight against such types of crimes.”

by Philani Nombembe