R900 “cool drink” money lands cop in hot water
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A POLICEMAN’S thirst for “cool drink” money landed him in hot water after he talked a “naive” complainant in a domestic violence matter, into paying R900 for services rendered.
Sergeant Mzwandile Msani has now lost his job, and, as of last week, he has a criminal conviction after appearing at the Durban Magistrate's court over the corruption charge against him.
It was outside the same court building in March 2020 that Msani’s illicit plan to earn some “cooldrink money” lost its fizz.
It was by complete coincidence that a small group of policemen were in close proximity to Msani’s parked police vehicle when they noticed a civilian behaving suspiciously near the car.
They investigated and discovered the cool drink money, nine R100 notes, placed under a carpet in Msani’s vehicle.
Msani was questioned and immediately arrested.
He has entered into a Section 105a plea and sentencing agreement with the State.
Prosecutor Surekha Marimuthu acted on behalf of the State and the agreement was confirmed by magistrate Mayne Mewalall.
Having pleaded guilty to the charge, Msani was sentenced to three years imprisonment, wholly suspended for three years, provided he is not convicted of any corruption charges during this period.
He was also required to pay a R10 000 fine, half of which was suspended for three years, on condition he does not commit a similar offence in the period in question.
Msani was based at the Cato Manor Police Station.
He assisted a colleague who was the investigating officer in the complainant’s matter.
The woman’s boyfriend was charged for assaulting her.
At some stage, Msani was informed by his colleague that the girlfriend had withdrawn the charge and was pending the State prosecutor’s decision on the matter.
Msani said in his plea statement that he then informed the woman to visit the Durban courthouse the next day (March 19, 2020), and bring R900 cooldrink money to have the matter withdrawn.
On the day, he phoned the woman to remind her about the cool drink money.
She was accompanied by another man and Msani transported them to court.
Msani said the man who sat at the back of the car was not known to him.
When they arrived at the court building, the man told Msani that he had the money.
Msani asked him to place the money under the mat behind the front passenger seat.
After attending to matters in court, Msani said he had “a change of heart and felt uncomfortable with his conduct”.
He decided to return the money to the complainant and took them back to the car.
While approaching the car, from some distance away he deactivated the alarm and asked the man to fetch the money.
Msani noticed a group of men speaking to the man near his car.
He began to hurriedly walk towards the Durban Central Police Station when the group of men approached him, identified themselves as policemen and took him back to the car.
The vehicle was searched, the R900 was found and Msani was arrested.
Msani admitted that he was not the investigating officer in the complainant’s matter. Therefore, he had no control over it, and his request for money to have the matter withdrawn was “opportunistic” and a “means to extract money from her”.
He accepted his money request was “unlawful” and an “act of corruption”.
Msani was initially subjected to the Saps’ internal disciplinary processes and was dismissed.
He said his plea of guilty in the criminal matter was his expression of “remorse”, and he committed the offence “during a moment of greed”.
“This has been a harsh and severe lesson. I will now have a criminal conviction against my name.
“I have failed my parents and brought humiliation to my family,” Msani’s statement read.
In formalising the agreement, the State was cognisant that “corruption was a disease eating away at societies” and Msani, as a policeman, was entrusted with upholding and enforcing the law.
That the complainant was a vulnerable person and Msani showed “blatant disregard for the law”.