STRIPPED of their uniforms, their guns and their freedom.
The Durban Commercial Crimes Court on Friday made an example of two traffic inspectors who were found guilty of corruption and money laundering after they took money from an errant motorist.
In May 2017, Department of Transport employees (Road Traffic Inspectorate) Bongani Michael Buthelezi and Nomcebo Thandeka Dube were on duty in Gingindlovu in Zululand when a motorist, Shadrack Dumisani Ngcobo, overtook several vehicles on a double barrier lane.
Buthelezi and Dube told him that he would be taken in for reckless and negligent driving.
On the way to the Gingindlovu police station, Ngcobo was led to believe that he would have to come up with R3 500 to secure his release on bail.
Buthelezi handed his phone the victim, who asked his niece help him secure the money for to to his release.
The R3 500 was deposited into the Capitec bank account of Dube’s minor child and then split between the two traffic employees.
Prosecutor Hazel Siraramen argued for a tough jail sentence to send a clear message that corruption did not pay.advocate Louis Barnard told the court that his clients had admitted to their deeds and had not come to court with “fanciful” defences.
“Both of them are very good candidates to come onto the right path again,” said Barnard.
However, Siraramen said that pleading guilty was not always indicative of remorse. She said traffic officials were role models who enforced the law and had the power to arrest. They also took an oath of affirmation to do their job with honesty and integrity.
Magistrate Dawn Soomaroo said both of the accused knew what they were risking. “Like bribery, corruption is a corrupt and ugly act.”
In her judgment,soomaroo said that Buthelezi had six kids from six different women and had suffered from severe depression after DNA tests revealed that three of the children were not biologically his.
Dube had three children and four unemployed siblings who lived with her parents, who were pensioners.
Soomaroo said neither of the accused were primary caregivers to their children, but did contribute to them financially.
She said the court found that by incarcerating both of the accused, there would not be any disruption to their children’s lives and the children would not be left destitute.
Soomaroo said Buthelezi had a previous criminal record that was expunged while Dube had no prior record.
She said their actions reinforced the already skewed views that members of the public had of traffic cops.
“Both played a major role in breaking the law rather than upholding it.”
Soomaroo sentenced both Buthelezi and Dube to six years in jail, with one year suspended.