LUTENDO LIVHEBE – MUDAU. A former prosecutor of Thohoyandou Magistrates’ Court, Leonard Makhado Ratshilumela (50) was convicted and sentenced to six years by the Giyani Specialised Commercial Crimes Court after he pleaded guilty for corruption. This follows an incident in May 2020, when Ratshilumela Makhado was arrested at Thavhani Mall in Thohoyandou by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation Unit ( HAWKS) during an undercover operation for an alleged bribe to make the case disappear. He demanded R6 000.00 gratification from the parent of the accused who was facing charges of reckless and negligent driving.

In his plea he submitted that he accepted gratification of R6 000.00 with the intention to destroy the docket of the reckless and negligent driving charges which were labelled against the minor child, instead of referring the case to the child justice court.

During the aggravation of the sentence, the state advocate Evans Lebese submitted that the country’s economy is bleeding a fortune due to corrupt activities and that corruption damages employees morale, organisational reputation and undermines the rule of law. The accused was expected to uphold the rule of law, instead he acted to the contrary. He and others should be deterred from committing similar offences. In terms of section 26 (1) (a) of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act 12 of 2004, the accused is liable for a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 18 years. Therefore, a non-custodial sentence option is deemed as less appropriate. However, the maximum of 18 years is also viewed as harsh. The state recommended eight years of direct imprisonment in terms of section 26(1) (a) (Ii) of the prevention and combating of Corruption Activities Act 12 of 2004. The court could not afford to be seen as non-responsive to corrupt activities, especially in this matter where one of its own is implicated – a lenient sentence would undermine the rule of law.

The court sentenced Leonard Makhado Ratshilumela to six years direct imprisonment for corruption and the court further ordered the accused not to possess a firearm.

He is also facing four counts of attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder. He will appear again in Sibasa Regional Court on 24 January 2023 for trial. He attempted to kill the witnesses in the corruption case by burning their house with petrol.

The National Prosecuting Authority condemns the behaviour of the former prosecutor and is disappointed that someone in his position could commit such crimes. We further commend the good work of police officers and the prosecutor who acted accordingly to ensure that justice is served, even against one of our own when they come into conflict with the law.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *