A 49-year-old former by-law enforcement officer convicted of corruption has escaped custodial sentence after Maun Chief Magistrate Thebeetsile Mulalu instead sentenced him to two years in prison wholly suspended for a period of two years.
Gabriel Setomba was last week convicted for receiving a P200 bribe in 2018 while he was still an employee at Maun Administration Authority (MAA).
It is alleged that on the 16th January 2018 while the accused person was employed as a by-law enforcement technician at MAA offered to accept for himself an amount of P200 from Flex investment to ensure that he destroys a charge sheet imposing a P1000 fine against Flex investment for failure to pay annual fees.
The accused person who pleaded not guilty alleged that the P200 pula was a gift for lunch from Flex investment director and Boseja South Councilor Itumeleng Kelebetseng who operates a liquor restaurant at Lafox complex in Boseja.
During trial Kelebetseng testified that he received a call back notification from an unknown number and he proceeded to call it and he found that the person was Setomba who told him that he was at the complainant’s business work place waiting for him.
Kelebetseng testified that on his arrival at his business work place the accused person informed him that though he was a by-law officer he was not on duty on that day.
Kelebetseng further testified that the accused person asked for four bottles of beer but when the complainant declined the request, he suggested that he be given P200 instead for him to terminate the alleged charge sheet.
The complainant reported the matter to DCEC who then set up an undercover operation. The DCEC officer, Rapula Mogathane, gave Kelebetseng P200 pula to give Setomba as bait.
As expected, Setomba was caught a few minutes after receiving the money and the same P200 which was given to Kelebetseng was found in his pocket together with his phone and a few coins.
In his mitigation plea, the accused person pleaded for a non-custodial sentence arguing that he is due for a hip surgery which needs a conducive and comfortable environment adding that going to prison will negatively affect his unstable health issues.
“I have already been punished for the corruption offence by losing my job, if I get a stiff punishment from the court, it will be unfair for me as I will be given double punishment for one offence,” Setomba pleaded.
When delivering the sentence, Mulalu noted that the court took into consideration that the accused person was a first-time offender
“The court also took into consideration the accused’s mitigation factor that he has already been punished for the offence at his work place by losing his job after committing the offence,” Mulalu noted.
Mulalu further noted that he took into account that the accused person pleaded that he has two daughters he has to take care of as their mother was not able to care of them.
The accused person will serve a two year non-custodial sentence provided he is not convicted for an offence involving an element of corruption during the period.