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R100 bribe lands cop in jail for 8 years

2014-08-19 22:51

Johannesburg - A former police sergeant was jailed for eight years by the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court on Tuesday for smuggling drugs into a Cape Town police station's cells.

Cornelius Wessels, 50, was commander of the cells at the Cape Town Central police station when he accepted a R100 bribe to give a food parcel with dagga hidden in it to a man in a cell. Magistrate Sabrina Sonnenberg described the incident as "absolutely shocking".

The incident involved an undercover police operation, in which a police informant posed as a prisoner locked in a cell, and an agent as a concerned friend of the man in the cell.

The trap was set up after Wessels had been identified as a corrupt official who could be bribed to give illegal parcels or substances to prisoners.

Because the bribe was only R100, both prosecutor Ezmarelda Johnson and legal aid lawyer Hayley Lawrence suggested a sentence involving correctional supervision, that would see Wessels released from prison after a short period, into house arrest and community service.

However, the magistrate said these were too lenient for corruption involving police officials.

At the time of the offence, Wessels had been in full uniform as the cell commander, and was responsible for ensuring everything was done by the book.

Instead, he accepted the food parcel without inspecting the contents, despite standing orders forbidding food or any other parcels for prisoners, the magistrate said.

Sonnenberg rejected Wessels' explanation that pity for the man in the cell had induced him to accept the parcel and give it to the prisoner.

She rejected his explanation that he had accepted the R100, not for himself, but to be given to the prisoner on his release.

According to Wessels, he had intended to record the money in a special register for this purpose, but was arrested before he could do so.

Sonnenberg told Wessels: "You were not an inexperienced constable, but a sergeant with 20 years service in the police. As the cell commander, you were in a position of trust, and carried a massive responsibility.

"I don't know what went on in your head, but it seems that any reward, even as little as R100, was good enough for you."

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