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Former city courtman fined for bribe

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The money was given to the complainant by the Hawks, who also gave him a wire to record the conversation during the exchange

Picture: Soraya Crowie

A FORMER Kimberley Magistrate’s Court State prosecutor, Anele Kohlani, was yesterday sentenced to a hefty fine after being found guilty of accepting a bribe.

Last year, Kohlani was found guilty of Section 9 of the Prosecution and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act after he was arrested by the Hawks at the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court on April 28 2015 on charges of accepting a bribe from Issac Tholowane in return for removing assault charges against the latter.

Tholwane said that during his trial he approached the Hawks and informed them about the apparent agreement to withdraw the case after the former prosecutor told him that the charges were serious and that he could face a lengthy period in prison for the offence.

He said he was afraid to go to jail and agreed to pay Kohlani the money. The money was given to the complainant by the Hawks, who also gave him a wire to record the conversation during the exchange.

Kohlani denied the charges against him and said that he had loaned the money to Tholwane.

In his plea explanation, Kohlani told the court that he had started a money loan business on the side in an attempt to make extra income. He said he mostly loaned money to close friends but approached people accused of drunken driving and those who had a previous criminal record as possible clients.

He was yesterday sentenced at his former place of employment, the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court, to a fine of R60 000 or three years imprisonment, plus an additional two years, suspended wholly for five years, on the condition that he is not found guilty of fraud, corruption or theft during this time.

Magistrate Vernon Smith, while handing down the sentence, said that it was “sad” that Kohlani never took the court into his confidence or showed any remorse.

“You should have played open cards, but the only reason you gave for your behaviour was financial problems”.

Smith said that a higher degree of honesty was expected from prosecutors and that they should be an example. “You are someone fighting crime and corruption and if someone is not applying the law you must prosecute them.”

He added that he could “only imagine” how proud Kohlani’s mother and family must have been when he earned his degree and was appointed as a prosecutor.

“You had the ability to excel as a prosecutor but chose to turn the wrong way. You decided that for a mere R1 500 to throw your career out of the window. You put shame on the legal system, as one bad apple puts a bad name on everyone,” Smith told Kohlani.

Smith went on to explain that the purpose of a sentence was to punish the offender for what they did wrong, to let potential offenders think twice and to show that no one is above the law.

He stated that both Kohlani’ legal representative, advocate Ferdie van Heerden, and the State prosecutor, Wentzel Engelbrecht, were right when they indicated that previous case law pointed towards direct imprisonment in this regard, adding, however, that he had “played around” with many ideas with regard to direct imprisonment as a sentence.

“Was he not punished by losing his job? What role is this playing on his family? How much suffering have they endured?” Smith asked.

He did, however, say that he would give Kohlani the opportunity to “rehabilitate himself”, before handing down sentence.

Kohlani will be expected to pay R10 000 by March 29 (today) and make consecutive monthly payments of R2 000 until the R60 000 fine has been fully paid.