Jackie does jail (maybe)

2010-07-04 11:18

Should an appeal ultimately be unsuccessful, Jackie Selebi could be forced to swap his Hugo Boss for prison ­orange. He faces a lengthy jail term if he cannot convince the court he is too sick, too old or suitably contrite.

The case against South Africa’s convicted former national police commissioner was prosecuted in terms of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act of 2004.

Depending on the nature of the ­defined offence, the legislation prescribes penalties ranging from a fine of R250 000 to life in prison.

According to section 23 (6) of the act, a court could even impose an ­additional fine “equal to five times the value of the gratification involved in the offence”.

Sources close to the prosecution team told City Press this week the state was likely to seek the “minimum” sentence for Selebi.

The country’s controversial minimum sentencing legislation, passed in 1998, prescribes a jail term of no less than 15 years for an accused found guilty in terms of certain provisions of the act. This is unless there are “substantial and compelling circumstances” to warrant the imposition of a lesser sentence.

Although no clear definition exists in law of these circumstances, case law has in the past taken into account factors like first-time offence, the age and health of the accused and whether or not the accused is a bread-winner.

The act has been described by legal experts as “casting the net wide” in terms of what is defined as “gratification”. It ranges from money to loans, property, votes and rendering (or non-rendering) of services, to “any ­offer, undertaking or promise whether conditional or unconditional”.

According to the National Anti­Corruption Forum (NACF) “it even covers gambling and sporting events – like paying a referee to make sure one side wins”. The legislation covers the public and private sectors.

Among other things, the legislation criminalises the destruction of the evidence of corruption.

A person is found guilty of an offence if he or she “accepts or agrees to accept for himself or herself or for any other person any gratification as an inducement to do or not to do anything or as a reward for having done or not having done anything”.

The legislation notes that in a case where the accused is involved in the detection, prosecution or punishment of offenders (which Selebi ultimately was as the head of the South African Police Service), it is not necessary for the prosecution to prove that the accused believed an offence had been committed.

Selebi was first charged in February 2008 with corruption, various sub-counts of corruption and defeating the ends of justice.

The original charge sheet was amended last October to allow for the admission of additional evidence.

Sentencing is set down for July 14.

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