Lying to cops? Think again

2020-02-17 11:48
Photo: Stock Image

Photo: Stock Image

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You find yourself in hot water and you think your only solution is to dash off to the nearest police station and open a false charge.

Poof! Your problems have disappeared, or so you thought.

That’s of course until the long arm of the law gets its grip on you.

Opening a false case is an offence and whoever is found to do so will be charged with perjury, warned Colonel Thembeka Mbele.

She was asked about the seriousness of the offence in the wake of a Pietermaritzburg teenager allegedly lying to police that she had been abducted at Capital Centre when she ran off with her boyfriend and friend.

Police efforts to track down the kidnapper after the teenager was found, revealed that she had told her family lies.

The young woman initially said she was kidnapped while walking out of the Pep store at Capital Centre. A white cloth was placed over her nose and mouth to drug her.

She said she was taken away in a vehicle that had seven other girls inside, and “three or more” abductors.

She went on to say that she “found” herself at the Market Square taxi rank the day afterwards. Her family said she looked as if she was still drugged.

Police spokesperson Sergeant Mthokozisi Ngobese said yesterday that the woman has not been charged with perjury because the matter is still under investigation.

Mbele continued: “We cannot tolerate people who are opening false cases to fulfil their needs.

“The state uses a lot of manpower and resources that should be used to fight serious and violent crimes.”

There have been many arrests made in relation to people who open false cases. “... The courts will decide the befitting sentence to impose on the accused,” she said.

Clinical psychologist Prishika Pillay said that people who commit perjury understand the consequences of their wrongdoing, which is why they lie.

“When they lie they are hoping that someone would believe in their lie ... they deny the truth and fabricate a situation hoping that someone would believe them,” she said.

Pillay said that when a person performs an act, he or she has the mental capacity to understand what they are doing.

When a person lies under oath there is an intent to mislead the court.

Pillay added she did not think it was better to lie.

People who commit criminal acts have a personality which defies morality, integrity and respect for human values and the law, she added.

Recent cases

Simply put, perjury is any intentionally false statement made under oath or affirmation.

While there is no prescribed sentence for perjury, the presiding officer can impose any sentence — ranging from a fine or suspended sentence to a term of imprisonment, said a legal source.

Attorney Siva Chetty said that in the district court the sentence can go up to three years’ imprisonment while in the regional court it can reach up to 10 years’ imprisonment.

In October, a Durban man who was charged for opening a false case was convicted and sentenced to a R1 000 fine.

Police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele said Thabo Donono Mkhuphuki (25) had pleaded guilty in the Ramsgate Magistrate’s Court.

On September 28, Mkhuphuki reported that his vehicle was hijacked in the Margate area. He alleged that he picked up a hitchhiker who hijacked him.

“Detectives probing the case were not convinced with his story and he later admitted that he was not hijacked after being confronted with their suspicions by detectives. A case of defeating the ends of justice was opened against him and he was charged,” she said.

The year before, a Gauteng resident found herself in hot water after reporting her car as stolen on the corner of OR Tambo and Louise Street.

It was reported that while investigating this, the police officer who was working on the docket realised that the registration number which the woman had given him was a false registration plate number.

When the police officer confronted the woman about the discrepancies in the statement she had given to law enforcement officials, she immediately admitted that she had attempted to mislead the SAPS, and was promptly arrested.

The woman was charged with perjury.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg
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