DA councillor weeps as wife jailed for theft

A popular DA ward councillor cried quietly in the Port Elizabeth Commercial Crimes Court yesterday as his wife was sentenced to eight years in prison for theft totalling nearly R90 0000.

Yvette Greyling, 43, tried to fight back tears as the court heard how she regretted her actions and did not try to use her young children as a way to escape jail.

At one point Francois Greyling, a Despatch ward councillor, stood up to hand his wife a tissue.

Greyling pleaded guilty to stealing about R880000 while working as an estate agent at Just Letting Uitenhage between 2013 and November 2014.

She purchased the franchise together with her husband in 2007. She then bought his share in October 2009.

When her business, a franchise of Just Property Group, ran into financial trouble in 2013, she began misappropriating the funds in her clients’ trust accounts to keep the business afloat.

According to a probation officer’s report handed to the court in mitigation of sentence yesterday, Greyling first tried alternative methods to keep the agency in business.

She borrowed money from the bank or her parents and even started up two independent companies to supplement income for Just Letting.

Then, in 2013, she began borrowing money from the trust accounts.

Although she would initially pay back the money, eventually the deficit was too great. About 137 tenants suffered financial losses.

State advocate Ulrike de Klerk said it was refreshing to deal with a matter where an accused took responsibility for her actions and did not try to hide behind her children.

Magistrate Louis Claassen agreed that this made the court’s job in handing down a sentence even trickier.

The money stolen was used to keep the business afloat and not to support a lavish lifestyle.

He said while Greyling was a suitable candidate for correctional supervision, because of the amount involved and the prevalence of the offence, the court could not shy away from direct imprisonment.

Claassen sentenced her to an effective eight years in prison.

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