Businessman convicted of corruption is a 'law-abiding citizen who simply fell off a cliff' - lawyer

2018-04-24 21:31
Magistrate's Court. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

Magistrate's Court. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

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Saleem Dawjee, who was convicted of corruption alongside former Western Cape top cop Arno Lamoer, was a law-abiding citizen who simply fell off a cliff, the Western Cape Court has heard.

These were the words of Dawjee's advocate, William King SC, when he presented his closing argument on Tuesday ahead of his client's sentencing.

Dawjee, Lamoer, Collin Govender and Darius van der Ross faced 109 charges of corruption, racketeering and money laundering.

READ: Finalise case so I can enjoy my pension - Lamoer

Dawjee allegedly paid them for favours by covering some of their fuel, clothing and travel costs.

In February, Dawjee was found guilty of fraud and corruption while his co-accused were convicted of corruption only.

The men were in court on Tuesday for closing arguments - the last leg of the sentencing proceedings.

King submitted that Dawjee, a 53-year-old tow-truck company owner, was remorseful for his actions and added that the fact that he had pleaded guilty to 11 charges was indicative of his remorse.

'Remorseful' 

Judge Rosheni Allie pointed out that Dawjee had initially pleaded not guilty and that he had only changed his plea based on the conditions provided by the State.

Dawjee and his co-accused pleaded guilty to charges of corruption in exchange for a non-custodial sentence, according to an agreement with the National Prosecuting Authority.

"Is this concession of guilt indicative of remorse or is it a case of the accused being stuck between a rock and a hard place?" asked Allie.

READ: NPA accused of reneging on Lamoer non-custodial sentence deal

King asked the court to have mercy on his client and added that the accused believed in law and order.

He always wanted to be a policeman and his sister was in the police force, the court heard. However, he wasn't able to realise his dream because he only had a Grade 3 education.

"Up until the commission of the crimes, [Dawjee] was always a law-abiding citizen, who simply fell off a cliff. He is not the run-of-the-mill skollie (thug)," King said.

He asked the court to impose a non-custodial sentence in accordance with the agreement made between the accused and the State.

King added that Dawjee had already been punished sufficiently since his illegal activities were exposed in the media.

He said that the accused's assets were confiscated by the State and that he had also lost his residence as a result of the court case.

"Anyone who loses their worldly possessions has suffered. This is a man over 50, whose business life is over and the court must take that into consideration," King said.

Read more on:    saleem dawjee  |  arno lamoer

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