High Court judge, Justice ‘Maseforo Mahase, on Tuesday this week found Chief Napo Majara of Sekamaneng guilty of receiving a bribe from one of his subjects who had come to him for services.
However, Justice Mahase deferred sentencing to 19 April this year due to the ongoing go-slow in the prison service.
The court heard how Chief Majara demanded M500 from Bokoro Tau in 2004 to change the ownership of his piece of land in Sekamaneng.
He wanted the land to be registered in his brother’s name, Dingaan.
However, the chief demanded M500 to effect the transfer, and Tau reported the case to the police. The police then set a trap for the chief and arrested him as he received the cash from Tau.
Justice Mahase on Tuesday found the chief guilty of contravening provisions of the Prevention of Corruption and Economic Offences Act of 1999 for soliciting bribes as a public officer.
Justice Mahase said Chief Majara was guilty as charged because “the accused has no defence at all except his bare denial.
“He never challenged the evidence that he met the Tau brothers and demanded a bribe before he could serve them.
“As I have already said, the accused was asked by the Tau brothers to stop demanding payment from them.
“But the accused told them that others, including high-ranking people in society, were also paying for services as nothing is obtained freely these days,” she said.
Justice Mahase also observed that Chief Majara was once suspended from his duties due to some malpractices.
“The accused is the gazette chief of Sekamaneng, and assumed his duties in September 1983.
“He was demoted during the military regime but was reinstated on an unspecified date,” she said.
The judge further said Chief Majara should not have solicited bribes because he received a stipend from government.
“The accused, in his capacity as the gazette chief of Sekamaneng, is a public officer who draws his salary from the treasury department.
“As a matter of principle, it is wrong for a public official to demand bribes.
“It is against the reasons I stated above that the accused is found guilty as charged,” she ruled.
The judge also remarked that the police should have preferred another charge of fraud against the chief.
Evidence before the court, the judge added, was that the chief issued a fraudulent document to Bokoro, showing the lawful occupation of a land.
In the document the chief had back-dated the stamp to appear as if the document was stamped in 1980 while it had been endorsed in 2004.
“In fact, the police should have preferred additional charges to the accused,” Justice Mahase said.
Meanwhile, in the course of the trial, Justice Mahase in November 2013 sent Chief Majara to prison for 14 days after he had failed to appear in court on the 4th of the same month.