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Businessman, ex-cops to be sentenced next week in corruption case

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Businessman Saleem Dawjee, former Western Cape police commissioner Arno Lamoer and two former police officers will be sentenced in the Western Cape High Court next week following a lengthy trial.

“We have to wrap things up. I need time to sit and consider all these submissions and evidence and come up with a reasoned decision,” said Judge Rosheni Allie on Wednesday after hearing final closing arguments.

Dawjee, Lamoer and former brigadiers Collin Govender and Darius van der Ross heard sentencing would take place on May 10.

The group initially faced more than 100 charges of corruption, racketeering and money laundering.

In February, Dawjee and the companies he represented at the time, Towbars Cape and Towbars King, were found guilty of corruption and fraud.

The total of the bribes paid by him and/or his companies amounted to around R96 000. His co-accused were convicted of corruption.

Corruption a ‘grave’ matter

Dawjee and his co-accused pleaded guilty to charges of corruption in exchange for a non-custodial sentence, according to an agreement with the National Prosecuting Authority.

On Wednesday, prosecutor Billy Downer said the accused had shown regret and acknowledged wrongdoing.

“It is too late, perhaps not enough, but it is there and we have made that concession. It is not as strong as we would like but it is there.”

He said it was up to the court to impose an appropriate sentence.

“The particular instance of corruption differs from case to case. The present matter is not up there with the Shaiks and Selebis with personal injury. Nevertheless, the court must regard corruption as grave.”

Advocate William King, SC, for Dawjee, said his client had been “brought to his knees financially” by debt obligations and had to sell the properties belonging to Towbars Cape and Towbars King.

No evidence of prejudice

He said the court should also be mindful of Dawjee’s health problems and that his highest level of education was Grade 3.

Allie said the country not only recognised formal education but skills and knowledge that were picked up in the workplace too.

“Absolutely right. All I am saying is that you must take the accused as he is,” King responded.

He said there was no evidence of actual prejudice being suffered by anyone as a result of the offences.

“There was no person for example that lost money, no person suffered hardships, other than Brigadier [Hansia] Hansraj, because she believed she had been persecuted. But now she has been vindicated so there is a slight balance there,” he said.

Police officer Hansraj was the whistleblower who testified about exposing a network of corruption while Goodwood police station commander.

She launched an inquiry into apparent cosy relationships between Dawjee, Lamoer and others in 2012.

King said while corruption was a serious offence, the court must take into account that the number of charges had dramatically decreased at the time of conviction and were not as serious.

Van der Ross’ legal team asked the court to keep in mind that he had served for 28 years in the police and had done a “sterling job 99% of the time”.

Advocate Johann Nortje, for Govender, said the corruption in this case was not so grave that it called for a custodial sentence.

[source: News24]
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