A police constable was jailed for eight years by a Cape Town court on Thursday for twice accepting bribes as inducements to obtain the drug “tik”. Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court Magistrate Sabrina Sonnenberg also declared Ricardo Abrahams, 34, a father of two, unfit to possess a firearm.
A young woman in the court room, Abrahams’s fiancée, gasped and burst into tears when Sonnenberg declared the sentence appropriate in the circumstances. She was helped out of the court room and left to wail in the corridor.
Abrahams, based at the Grassy Park police station on the Cape Flats, was caught in a police trap after complaints that police officials at the station were involved in corruption and drugs.
In November 2011, he accepted R300 for obtaining five grams of tik for a police agent posing as a drug peddler. The next month he similarly received a R400 reward for obtaining 10g of tik.
Sonnenberg said defence attorney Dieter Oosthuizen’s suggestion of five years’ correctional supervision was inadequate, as Abrahams would serve only 10 months in jail, before his release into house arrest.
She agreed with prosecutor Simon Leope’s call that a lenient sentence would cause disrespect for the justice system and encourage people to take the law into their own hands.
Leope had called for a sentence of 10 years, on the basis that would-be offenders, including corrupt police officials, would otherwise consider the “game worth the candle”.
Sonnenberg said young children could not be punished for the wrongs of their parents.
“On the other hand, this cannot be used by parents to escape the consequences of their unlawful actions,” she said.
She said Abrahams had chosen not to testify in his defence, “because he knew that he would have been subjected to cross-examination”.
She said Abrahams had accepted the two bribes whilst on duty, and in uniform.
Sonnenberg quoted from the corruption case involving former national police commissioner Jackie Selebi, in which the judge had likened corruption to cancer, as it “insidiously destroyed the moral fibre of society”. SAPA