Electricity cut-offs: man jailed over bribe

2010-10-21 00:00

A MAN formerly sub-contracted by the Msunduzi Municipality to oversee its electricity disconnections was found guilty of corruption this week and jailed effectively for five years.

A further three years’ imprisonment was suspen­ded.

Regional court magistrate Jaco Jordaan convicted Thokozani Victor Maphumulo (36) of having solicited a bribe of R300 from an unemployed woman, Anna Feuth of Pelham, in exchange for not disconnecting her electricity.

He was aware her account was in arrears.

According to evidence, Maphumulo worked for a company, SSI, which was sub-contracted by the municipality to carry out reconnections and disconnections.

Maphumulo was arrested on January 16, 2009, by police officer Piet van Zanten in a trap set after Feuth reported the ongoing extortion to the municipality.

Banknotes provided by the municipality were photocopied.

After Feuth handed the money to Maphumulo, Van Zanten recovered the identifiable notes in his possession.

While he was sentencing Maphumulo, the magistrate said it is widely known that corruption eats away at the fabric of society and is the “scourge of any modern democracy”.

This is why, he said, courts will continue to send the message to the community that corruption will not be tolerated.

The regional court has jurisdiction to impose sentences of up to 18 years’ imprisonment coupled with a “huge fine”, he said.

Unfortunately, in Maphumulo’s case, this would serve no purpose as he was unemployed.

Jordaan said that when deciding on a just sentence, he took into account that Feuth was poor and unemployed at the time of the offences, and that she and the municipality stood to lose a great deal of money.

Fortunately for Feuth, he added, her husband had come to her rescue and paid the R25 000 arrears she owed for electricity.

He said it was aggravating that Maphumulo was employed to earn a salary of between R3 000 and R4 000 per month at the time and that he had acted out of greed.

It was mitigating that he was a first-time offender.

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