State supports non-custodial sentence for Lamoer and co-accused

16 April 2018 - 17:35 By Philani Nombembe
General Arno Lamoer. File photo.
General Arno Lamoer. File photo.
Image: Times Media

Former Western Cape police commissioner Arno Lamoer and his co-accused are hot under the collar about the prosecution’s court submissions which they feel opened a loophole for imprisonment.

Sentencing procedures commenced in the High Court in Cape Town on Monday after Lamoer pleaded guilty to corruption‚ relating to public officers accepting or offering to accept gratification‚ in February after a 35-year police service. He faced more than 100 charges of corruption‚ racketeering and money laundering involving about R1.6-million.

He was indicted along with businessman Salim Dawjee‚ former police brigadiers Darius Ross‚ Sharon Govender and her husband Colin Govender. They initially denied the charges but changed their pleas. Sharon Govender was acquitted.

On Monday‚ Dawjee’s counsel‚ William King‚ SC‚ queried the state’s papers in aggravation of sentence. King insinuated that the way the state’s argument was structured could have influenced the court to impose a minimum sentence – which is 15 years’ imprisonment. In so doing‚ King argued that the state would have reneged on its undertaking to support a non-custodial sentence.

The court adjourned to allow the parties to meet to thrash the issue out.

Lamoer is representing himself.

After the break‚ prosecutor Billy Downer told the court: “We’ve had our conference…we support the imposition of a non-custodial sentence with regard to all accused.”

King said his client changed his plea based on that premise. However‚ the court will exercise it discretion.

Eric Ntabazalila‚ spokesman for the prosecution‚ explained afterwards: “The issue was around our heads of arguments where the defence felt that although we agreed on a non-custodial sentence‚ the compilation of our papers seem to suggest that we were in favour of a custodial sentence. We cleared that again in court today and explained to the court that we were in favour of a non-custodial sentence.”

The court gallery was cleared when a probation officer was about to testify about a report on Colin Govender. Judge Rosheni Allie said the report contained personal and medical information.

An expert from the Independent Police Investigative Directorate is expected to testify on Tuesday and give the court an overall picture on the prevalence of corruption within the police.

In his admission‚ Lamoer said he met Dawjee 25 years ago when he worked at the Manenberg police station and they became friends. He said they were there for each during hard times and admitted that‚ between December 2011 and September 2013‚ he made loans from Dawjee. He said the agreement was that he would pay them back when he retired. Lamoer said he had honoured the agreement.

He admitted to “wrongfully and unlawfully” issuing a letter of good standing – on a police letterhead – on behalf of Dawjee to benefit his companies.

Colin Govender admitted to receiving gratifications worth more than R24‚000 from Dawjee and pleaded guilty to one charge of corruption.

Van der Ross admitted to using Dawjee’s petrol cards to fill up his car for up to R3‚324.60.

Dawjee admitted to giving Lamoer more than R67‚000 and paying gratifications to Govender and Van der Ross. He said Lamoer had paid the money in full.

The sentencing proceedings continue.