THE Bloemfontein Magistrates Court in the Free State has sentenced three cops to an effective 15 years’ imprisonment for corruption, assault, kidnapping and defeating the ends of justice on Friday, 17 February.
The accused, Patrick Mthembu (42), Mokgothu Mokhobo (47) and Thabiso Rabannye (38), were sentenced to 15 years for corruption, eight years for assault, four years for kidnapping and three years for defeating the ends of justice.
The officers were on duty on Friday, 5 June 2020 at Diphiring Border Gate when they came across Lepolisa Ramahlele crossing illegally into Mzansi from Lesotho.
Ramahlele went to Lesotho to buy cigarettes that he was going to sell in Mzansi as lockdown regulations were prohibiting the use of tobacco.
National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Phaladi Shuping said officers demanded Ramahlele pay them so he won’t be arrested for contravention of lockdown regulations.
“He offered the accused R7 000 but they told him that amount is too little. Ramahlele then offered R10 000 to them and he made a call to his friend to bring him R3 000. While waiting for a friend to bring R3 000, the accused took his bag of cigarettes and tobacco products worth R30 000.
“They tied his hands, threatened to throw him in the nearby river, fired a shot on the ground, ordered him to get into the car and drove with him to Zastron against his will. The evidence is that they did not register the confiscated bag at the police station,” said Phaladi.
Arguing in aggravation of the sentence, state prosecutor Sello Matlhoko told the court the accused, as police officers, were expected to uphold the law but they failed to do so as they committed criminal offences.
Matlhoko said the accused did not only breach their oath of office, but also the trust that the people of South Africa put in them, as people who are supposed to prevent, detect and combat crime.
“As police officers, they have undertaken and committed themselves to the creation of a safe and secure environment for all people of South Africa, but they failed to do so. They were placed at the border gate, with a responsibility to prevent and combat cross-border crimes, including illegal crossing to and from South Africa, but they failed to prevent illegal crossing of the complainant because they wanted money from him,” said Matlhoko.
The accused will effectively serve 15 years’ imprisonment after the court ordered the sentences to run concurrently.