Pros­e­cu­tor found guilty

Diamond Fields Advertiser - - NEWS - BENIDA PHILLIPS STAFF RE­PORTER

A FOR­MER Kim­ber­ley Mag­is­trate’s Court pros­e­cu­tor, Anele Kohlani, has been found guilty of Sec­tion 9 of the Pros­e­cu­tion and Com­bat­ing of Cor­rupt Ac­tiv­i­ties Act af­ter he ac­cepted a bribe from an ac­cused per­son.

Kohlani was ar­rested on April 28 2015 on charges of ac­cept­ing R1 500 from Is­sac Tholowane in re­turn for re­mov­ing as­sault charges against the lat­ter.

Thol­wane told the court that he and the com­plainant, who laid the as­sault charges against him, reached an agree­ment to with­draw their cases against each other while they were in po­lice cus­tody.

Thol­wane said dur­ing the trial that 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 he started a money loan busi­ness on the side in an at­tempt to make an 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 said that his in­come was stretched as his wife was stay­ing in Pre­to­ria and the birth of his child brought ad­di­tional fi­nan­cial burdens.

Kohlani said he he lent the money to Thol­wane as the lat­ter wanted to hire a lawyer to rep­re­sent him in the case. He said they reached an agree­ment that he would pay him back dur­ing Thol­wane’s next court ap­pear­ance.

The State, rep­re­sented by WC En­gel­brecht, said Kohlani had abused his po­si­tion and it was clear from his ver­sion that he was guilty of cor­rup­tion.

“The ac­cused said he loaned money to the com­plainant at an in­ter­est rate of 30%. That per­cent­age is not in line with the Credit Act. He in­formed the com­plainant of the 30% (in­ter­est rate) and in­structed him not to tell any­one. The ac­cused was not reg­is­tered to loan money.

“To loan money as a pros­e­cu­tor was un­eth­i­cal and the ac­cused was aware that he could lose his job. The ac­cused also did not know what he would do if the com­plainant did not pay him back. He broke the trust be­tween him and his em­ployer by do­ing so,” said En­gel­brecht.

Kohlani’s lawyer, Ad­vo­cate Ferdi van Heer­den, ar­gued that the ac­cused did not re­ceive the 30% in­ter­est on the money and only the R1 500 he said he loaned to the com­plainant.

Mag­is­trate Ver­non Smith said although the com­plainant was a sin­gle and un­e­d­u­cated wit­ness, his tes­ti­mony was un­wa­vered.

“The ev­i­dence of a sin­gle wit­ness should be treated with cau­tion, how­ever the com­mon sense of the com­plainant told him that some­thing was wrong even though he did not have in­sight into le­gal pro­ceed­ings,” said Smith.

He added that it was clear from the voice record­ing, which was played dur­ing the trial, that Kohlani had cho­sen his words care­fully dur­ing the trans­ac­tion.

“The ac­cused is a pros­e­cu­tor and as­sumed to be more knowl­edge­able in law than the com­plainant. The ver­sion of the ac­cused was that he lent money to a com­plete stranger. He said he would just wait un­til the com­plainant’s next court ap­pear­ance to get his money back.

“He did not even know when the com­plainant was due to ap­pear or how he would get his money back. In the record­ings, the ac­cused never asked the com­plainant for the money. He never re­quested it through­out. He used in­ter­est­ing words dur­ing the record­ing and picked his an­swers care­fully when he told the com­plainant that they must go to the of­fice,” Smith said, adding that although there were some con­tra­dic­tions in the tes­ti­mony of the com­plainant, he found it to be truth­ful.

“There was noth­ing sin­is­ter in the com­plainant’s ev­i­dence stat­ing that he was ap­proached by the ac­cused. I can un­der­stand the frus­tra­tion of the com­plainant when he found that the as­sault charge had not been with­drawn.

“The con­tra­dic­tion of the com­plainant was that he could not re­mem­ber ev­ery­thing. That does not mean that the com­plainant was un­truth­ful or that it had re­sulted in a neg­a­tive im­pact on the ev­i­dence.

“We all can­not re­mem­ber the finer de­tails of some mat­ters. The com­plainant re­mained cer­tain of what hap­pened ... he never ap­peared un­cer­tain on the stand,” he said.

Smith re­jected Kohlani’s ver­sion of events, stat­ing that the ac­cused had no rea­son to go to this ex­tent.

The mat­ter was post­poned to Jan­uary next year for sen­tenc­ing.

Pic­ture: So­raya Crowie

Anele Kohlani.

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