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Ex-home affairs official jailed for R350 bribe

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A former Department of Home Affairs official has been jailed for four years, for taking a R350 bribe in a police trap.

Jennifer Bruce, 51, appeared in the Specialised Commercial Crime Court in Bellville on Tuesday, before magistrate Sabrina Sonnenberg, and was sentenced on a charge of corruption.

The magistrate said the under-cover operation was authorised by the Western Cape Directorate for Public Prosecutions, after the Home Affairs Department had received complaints about him.

An under-cover agent was set up to apply for an identity document (ID), without his birth certificate.

Qambela agreed to assist, if the applicant gave him R350, ostensibly for a teacher to issue a letter falsely stating that the applicant had been the teacher’s pupil, which would suffice for the birth certificate.

The prosecutor, senior State advocate Derek Vogel, told the court that Qambela must have been under suspicion for “some time”, for Home Affairs to request authority for the under-cover operation.

The trap was not an isolated incident, he said.

He referred to Finance Minister Provan Gordhan’s remark during his budget speech, that corruption in the country had become a cancer, which needed to be addressed urgently.

He suggested a five-year prison sentence, and reminded the court that it had itself recently jailed two corrupt police officials for eight years, in one case for corruption involving only R500.

Also recently, in the same court, a municipal official got four years for corruption, he said.

Defence attorney Mujahid Adams countered that Qambela’s case was “not the most heinous”, and he suggested two or three years.

The magistrate said the amount involved was not as important as the fact that Qambela had corruptly requested money to do something that he was legally not supposed to do.

“The under-cover agent said he wished to apply for an ID document without his birth certificate, and you were willing to assist him,” she told Qambela.

She said corruption threatened the stability of the country, and undermined the values of the constitution.

She said he was greed-motivated, and neither a warning nor a fine were appropriate sentences.

She added: “The court cannot allow the rich to buy their freedom.”

She said a suspended prison sentence would amount to a “slap on the wrist”, and correctional supervision, involving a short period in prison, followed by house arrest, would not address the gravity of corruption, nor the interests of society.

[Source: African News Agency]
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