The Camperdown Regional Court has slapped a former KwaZulu-Natal prosecutor with five years’ imprisonment for corruption, theft and defeating the course of justice.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said the matter dates back to 2015 when Zanele Molefe, 42, was a District Court Prosecutor at the Mooi River Magistrates Court.
“A man called Philani Hlela had driven into the glass doors of a convenience store, damaging the doors. The owner of the store, Donovan Carter opened a case of malicious injury to property and Molefe was allocated the case.”
Molefe approached Hlela asking him for R 1000 to make the case go away.
“He paid her the money. Thereafter, in an alternate dispute resolution mediation between the two parties, Molefe advised Carter that there was not enough evidence to proceed with the matter. Carter then approached Hlela, asking him if he was denying the allegations against him. Hlela said that he was not and offered to pay for the damages,” said the NPA.
In the meantime, the two men agreed that a sum of R 10 000 would resolve the matter.
“Hlela asked for a week to gather the amount. Three weeks later, Carter met Hlela at a local petrol station and Carter asked him why he had not paid the money yet. Hlela advised that he had paid the R 10 000 to Molefe three weeks before.”
In the statement, the NPA explained that the Prosecutor had phoned Hlela and said that she would collect the money, which she would hand over to Carter.
“He had met her outside the court building and gave her the money in a plastic packet, which she put into her purse,” the statement read.
According to the NPA, Molefe should have arranged via the court system instead of accepting the money in her personal capacity.
“Carter then went to Molefe’s office and confronted her about the money. She told him that she had spent it but agreed to pay him instalments of R 2 500, which she did.”
The Regional Court Prosecutor, Sharlene Lupke led the evidence of Carter and Hlela, who turned state witness, admitting his fault in paying the R 1000 initially.
“In aggravation of sentence, Ms Lupke told the court that Molefe abused her position of trust and failed to deliver on her mandate as a Prosecutor.”
The NPA’s Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) was also involved and they secured a confiscation order to the value of R 4000.
“This amount will go into the Criminal Asset Recovery Account (CARA) where funds recovered from the proceeds of crime are deposited into and then used in the fight against crime.”
Molefe has since been sentenced to five years imprisonment for corruption, three of which is suspended for a period of five years, two years imprisonment for theft and two years’ imprisonment for defeating the course of justice.
The NPA said the sentences for theft and defeating the course of justice will run concurrently with the corruption sentence.
KwaZulu-Natal’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Advocate Elaine Zungu, has welcomed the conviction and sentence.
“The case is an example of the NPA’s commitment to deal with corruption within our own ranks and bring to justice those who do not share our vision and mission in the NPA,” she added.
Molefe has since been dismissed.