ANC big shot in bid to skip jail

2010-10-31 12:37

Top ANC official Uriel Abrahamse – who accidently­ shot and killed a toddler playing in a creche – has launched a desperate legal bid to avoid jail time.

Abrahamse, a father of two and deputy general manager at the ruling party’s head office, Luthuli House in Johannesburg, is ­appealing the sentence handed down by Newlands Regional Court magistrate Koos Pretorius.

Abrahamse’s legal team have slammed ­Pretorius who sentenced him to five years in March for over-emphasising the interests of the community at his expense and handing him a “shockingly disproportionate” jail term.

In October 2008, Abrahamse fired a shot at a cellphone thief who had attacked his son, but the bullet ricochetted off a fence and struck four-year-old Gwadiso Belang Junior, who was playing at a creche in Westdene, ­Johannesburg.

Junior’s parents, Abigail and Gwadiso ­Belang, were not aware of Abrahamse’s latest court action and expressed unhappiness when told of his appeal.

“The longer it drags on the more difficult it will be for us to close the chapter and move on,” Abigail says.

She believes Abrahamse has been able to stay out of prison due to his powerful ­position.

“If they let him go, they should do the same with other criminals in prison,” she says.

Last week, the South Gauteng High Court postponed the matter to March next year and Abrahamse’s R4?000 bail was extended.

In court papers, the 48-year-old says he is a first time offender and that Pretorius was wrong to impose direct imprisonment, which he insists should be avoided where other sentencing options have a deterrent effect.

Abrahamse, a former Angola and Botswana-based operative of the ANC’s armed wing, Umkhonto weSizwe, describes his jail ­sentence for the fatal shooting of Junior as “disproportionate”.

Abrahamse was sentenced to five years but is due to spend only 10 months in prison if his appeal does not succeed, with the ­remainder converted to correctional supervision or house arrest.

Abrahamse’s affidavit states: “Pretorius has erred by failing to take into consideration the catastrophic results which direct imprisonment would bring.”

He lists the “catastrophic results” as the social and economic destruction of his life and that he may thereafter continue to be a burden to the community.

Abrahamse offered to set up a trust fund for the Belang’s two other children and erect a tombstone.

But Belang’s response is: “I’m not going to sell my son’s soul. What for?”

Junior’s father says this was a ploy to get a lighter sentence.

“We didn’t even consider it, we weren’t ­interested,” Abigail adds.

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