Lucky Friday the 13th for bribe accused
Cape Town - Friday the 13th turned out to be a lucky day for a man charged with offering a police constable a R20 bribe.
Christopher Lewis appeared in the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court in Cape Town, before Magistrate Amrith Chabilall.
According to the charge sheet, Lewis was arrested after police Constable Amerzon Mclean Bevon caught him melting worthless copper in an open field.
Lewis allegedly offered the policeman R20 for a cooldrink, to secure his release. Lewis was charged with corruption.
Prosecutor Simon Leope said although the case only involved R20, he had instructions from the Western Cape Directorate for Public Prosecutions (DPP) that all matters involving corruption be dealt with by the regional court, and not in the lower district court.
Leope added: "If the court feels that a case involving only R20 is not a regional court matter, I ask that the case be transferred to the Goodwood Magistrate's Court."
Chabilall explained to Lewis that the criminal justice system involved the lower district courts, the higher regional courts and the high courts. He said certain criteria had been determined for placing cases on the rolls of the different courts.
The Western Cape's regional court president, Bruce Langa, had directed that corruption cases involving the police or public officials, be placed on the roll of the Specialised Commercial Crime Court.
Chabilall said there was no reason why his case could not be dealt with by the lower district court.
Although the case only involved R20, Lewis ran the risk of a much more severe sentence if found guilty in the commercial court, than if he went on trial in the district court, he said.
He said the DPP decision conflicted with the directions given by the regional court president.
Chabilall said he did not have the powers to order the case transferred back to the district court, and his only option was to order the case removed from his roll.
This meant that the charge was withdrawn, and Lewis was free to leave.
However, Chabilall added: "You can consider Friday the Thirteenth as your lucky day."