Former Randburg magistrate Johannes Kgomo has been sentenced to 15 years in jail for two charges of corruption by Magistrate Albertus Roux.
He was found guilty in November of corruption under the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act after taking a bribe to influence another magistrate to stop the extradition of Botswana fugitive Paul Mthabela.
In a sting operation‚ the Hawks caught Kgomo taking a R150‚000 bribe from Mthabela. Mthabela was a state witness testifying against Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir and his five co-accused in a kidnapping‚ assault‚ attempted murder and drug dealing case. He fled Botswana in 2007 after allegedly defrauding the state medical aid scheme of more than R17-million.
He was released on bail in his extradition hearing in 2011 and approached by Kgomo and another man in the court parking lot‚ saying they knew the magistrate who would hear his extradition case. Kgomo said he could assist in making the matter disappear by influencing magistrate Tefo Myambo in exchange for R500‚000.
Mthabela paid R90‚000. He was sentenced to be extradited by Myambo despite the bribe. While appealing the extradition he told police about the bribe.
He again approached Kgomo‚ who asked for the outstanding money to influence Myambo in the appeal. Myambo has since died.
Kgomo pleaded not guilty and said the money was for a BMW he was selling. Magistrate Roux did not accept his testimony and found him guilty in November.
In deciding a sentence Roux‚ said Kgomo had to be sentenced for a minimum of 15 years for taking a bribe of “more than R100‚000 in an offence committed between people with a common purpose”.
Roux found no substantial and compelling circumstances to motivate for a lesser sentence: “He showed no remorse.”
Roux ruled: “For remorse to be a valid consideration‚ the accused must take (the court) into their confidence. The courts are regularly reminded to show some form of mercy. That is possible where the accused takes it into its confidence. The court is still in the dark as to why this crime was committed. Despite the compelling evidence against him‚ the accused persisted with denial of any wrongdoing.”
Roux said: “It appears as if corruption has become part of our culture and will soon became part of our DNA in society. It is the responsibility of court that robust sentences will be meted out to those convicted of corruption. If justice is too lenient‚ it is catastrophic for society…
“It goes without saying that corruption by a magistrate is a serious offence. The only option available to the court is a direct term of imprisonment.”
Kgomo’s attorney Paul Leishner told the court he would appeal.
“Mthabela was a single witness with numerous‚ multiple contradictions and not sufficient to sustain a conviction.”
Leishner said Mthabela had lied about the bribe in order to escape extradition to Botswana and to date has not yet been extradited. He called Mthabela’s testimony about the bribes “dishonest and unreliable”. Leishner also argued that the sting operation was unlawful.