Three Western Cape police officers who returned bags of dagga seized from a suspect in exchange for a bribe of 2,100 rupees were sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in prison.
The sentences of Cape Town Police, Gerald Nolan Van Nel, Justin Mthetheleli Mhlonto and Jacob Store, were suspended for five years on the condition that they would not commit corruption, fraud and forgery during the suspension.
The court declared them unfit to possess firearms.
Their accomplice, fellow officer Jacob Store, was given a five-year suspended sentence after he signed a plea deal with the state.
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The court heard how the trio was present in 2015 at a crime scene where an alleged murder was committed. They then searched a house during their investigation and found two bags filled with dagga on the property.
“They took [suspect] Thulani Mazele accompanied them to the police station, but declared the dagga not seized at the crime scene. Instead, they accepted an amount of R2,100 from Mazele for the dagga’s release.
“Then they escorted Mazele to his home to get the money and deliver the dagga. The money was distributed, with R700 each in his pocket,” said NPA spokesman Eric Ntabazalila.
The defense asked the court to impose suspended sentences or correctional supervision on the officers. The state charged that since officers were meant to enforce the law, the three had failed in their duties and should receive immediate prison terms.
Nicolette Bell, head of the Western Cape’s NPA, welcomed the verdicts and said the province had a “zero tolerance approach” to corruption.
“We hope the sentences send a strong signal to potential offenders to deter them from criminal acts,” she said.
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