South Africa, Durban – An ex policeman, who pleaded guilty to corruption, will spend two years in jail.
In March, Zein Mohammed, a warrant officer then stationed at Isipingo SAPS, approached a tavern owner, Pradesh Domanlall, and asked for R1 500.
He told Domanlall a previous fine he owed, of R9 000, would be sorted out and he would also notify him beforehand of any raids on his premises.
The men agreed to meet on March 13 at the BP petrol station on Prospecton Road in Isipingo.
On the day, Domanlall gave Mohammed R1 500.
After accepting the cash, members of the Anti-Corruption Unit approached and arrested Mohammed. He was charged with a count of corruption.
Last Thursday, Mohammed, 49, kept his head lowered as he stood before magistrate FB Mohamed in the Durban Magistrate’s Court. The father of two had pleaded guilty.
In his statement, read out by attorney Ridwaan Sayed, Mohammed said he had financial difficulties and needed money.
“I am employed by the SAPS and I was entrusted with the issuing of liquor licences and policing transgressions against the Liquor Act.
“The complainant, Pradesh Domanlall, owned a bar in Isipingo and I got to know him during the course of my policing duties while stationed at Isipingo. Various policing actions had been carried out at the complainant’s business which resulted in a fine of R9 000 in contravention of the Liquor Act.
“In March 2020, I had approached and advised that if he paid me a sum of money, I would assist him in getting his fines cancelled in the Durban Magistrate’s Court and that I would inform him in advance of any actions that were to take place at his business so he would be informed and to avoid receiving any fines in future.”
Mohammed said they met on March 13 and the sum of R1 500 was handed over to him.
“I agree that my actions were unlawful and that I knew at all times that my actions to solicit money from the complainant in order to perform my duties as a police officer dishonestly was an offence.”
Sayed suggested that instead of sending Mohammed to prison, magistrate Mohamed should consider a long suspended sentence that would hang above his head and remind him in the future that he could not commit a similar offence.
“Corruption is cancerous to society … The accused is remorseful for what he has done. He has had a clear criminal record and he pleaded because he knows his actions were wrong.
“He has also resigned from the SAPS and is looking for employment.
“In his 20 years in the job, he has not even had a disciplinary hearing or been suspended.”
Sayed added that magistrate Mohamed should be mindful there was not much space in the prisons and it was a place for those who committed crimes of a higher degree, like murder and rape.
However, Kuveshnie Pillay, the State prosecutor, argued Mohammed should get direct imprisonment.
“We have to be mindful that the punishment must fit the crime. The accused stands in a special position, being that he was a member of the police, and he brought disrepute to the organisation. His record has been unblemished because he was not caught before … His greed led him to accept the money and that’s why he is standing here.”
She said that in order to send out a strong message to the public, Mohammed would need a harsh punishment.
“Corruption is indeed cancerous and the court needs to send out a hard message to show those members in the police force that are corrupt to stop their ways. It will also show the public that the courts are serious about corruption.”
Handing down her sentence, magistrate Mohamed said while she accepted that Mohammed was remorseful for his actions, she did not see the need for him to accept R1 500 from a person.
“This is a prevalent offence that has being carried out by members of SAPS and metro police where they accept bribes and those who are caught and come to court mostly get direct imprisonment.”
She said it was Mohammed’s duty to uphold the law.
Magistrate Mohamed said while she was aware of the issue of space in the prisons, society was fed up with corruption and looked to the court for punishment.
She sentenced Mohammed to seven years in prison with five years being suspended.
This means he will serve two years in prison, but if he commits another offence during the remaining five years, he would have to serve the rest of his sentence in jail.