Ex-cop gets prison for teen sex

2012-11-14 00:00

FORMER Howick police warrant officer, Michael Sokhela (43), has been sentenced to four years in prison for having sex with an underage teenager.

Regional magistrate Chris van Vuuren imposed additional wholly suspended sentences amounting to seven year imprisonment, and fines totalling R4 500 on Sokhela in connection with five offences to which he pleaded guilty in October this year, including the statutory rape of the 13-year-old girl.

Passing sentence on Sokhela, Van Vuuren said the court accepted — based on Sokhela’s plea — that only one sexual act took place between him and the teen.

However, he said it was clear that he had pursued and preyed on the young girl.

“The fact that a 43-year-old adult male became “more than just good friends” with a 12-year-old girl and subsequently had sex with her months later when she was 13, suggests … that the accused pursued the young girl and guided her eventually into his bed.

“This was not one spontaneous meeting resulting in sex,” said Van Vuuren.

“The girl was preyed upon by a man virtually four times her age. She was a girl of young and impressionable age and he took advantage of this.”

Van Vuuren said there was good reason for the fact that it was an offence to have sexual intercourse with someone under the age of 16.

“It is designed to protect the youth of our country against predators who prey on them and exploit and manipulate them, such as the accused did in the matter at hand,” he said.

Another of the charges — in respect of which Sokhela received a wholly suspended sentence of four years imprisonment — related to his possession of a stolen DVD player he’d bought from his cousin Welcome Madlala in November 2009 for R140.

Madlala was later convicted of involvement in a robbery at the farm of former KZN government spokesperson, Warwick Dorning, who was shot dead during the attack on November 7, 2009.

Passing sentence on Sokhela in connection with the offence, Van Vuuren had regard to the evidence of a special advisor to the KZN premier, John Wills, who also testified as a representative of the Dorning family.

Van Vuuren agreed with Wills that a police officer, particularly a detective, should be more circumspect when buying property offered off the street.

There was also merit in Wills’s view that courts should be robust in dealing with those who receive stolen goods as without such people many thieves and robbers would have no purpose in committing crimes, he said.

However, Van Vuuren said while there was obviously great sympathy for Dorning’s family and one could understand their view towards the person at whose home the DVD stolen from the farm, was found, it had been accepted by all parties in the present case that Sokhela had absolutely no idea as to the origin of the DVD.

A presiding officer had to divorce himself from emotional sentiments and decide on an appropriate sentence based on the facts before court, he said.

He also stressed in his judgment that the court would not overemphasise the fact that Sokhela was a policeman and therefore had a higher duty to abstain from criminal conduct. To do so, would result in inappropriate sentences being imposed, he said.

Sokhela was sentenced to a fine of R500 or six months’ imprisonment for negligent driving, in relation to his admission that he’d crashed a police vehicle into a fence in December 2007 after driving too fast.

He was fined R4 000 (or three years) arising from a charge that the concentration of alcohol in his blood exceeded the legal limit when he was stopped at a roadblock in December 2007.

And, finally, he was given a wholly suspended sentence of three years’ imprisonment over his admission that he unlawfully “borrowed” four beds from the police barracks and took them to his home in Merrivale intending to return them later.

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