Municipal officer gets heavier sentence for corruption

South Africa
File: A heavier sentence for corruption was imposed on a senior Western Cape municipal official. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN - A heavier sentence for corruption was imposed on a senior Western Cape municipal official on Tuesday.

The Western Cape High Court overturned the suspended jail sentence of Denvor Fielies, 40, as being "too lenient and disturbingly inappropriate".

It was imposed three years ago. He now faces a three-year jail sentence.

Fielies was appointed departmental head in charge of streets, storm water, parks and resorts in Hessequa Municipality.

The Hessequa Municipality incorporates the southern Cape towns of Riversdale, Albertina, Heidelberg and Stilbaai.

Fielies had obtained a higher diploma in civil engineering, which had qualified him for the post.

He had pleaded guilty to 39 counts of corruption, relating to tenders that he awarded to a civil engineering subcontractor.

He was convicted in the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court in October 2010, and was allowed until the end of that year to pay his R60,000 fine.

On Tuesday, High Court acting judge NP Boqwana, with Judge Bennie Griesel concurring, described as a heresy the idea that prison was only a place for offenders found guilty of violent crime, and that it was not a place for people with respectable backgrounds.

The judges said: "These ideas are heresies, and nothing will be gained by lending credence to them - quite the contrary.

"The impression that white collar crime is not regarded by the courts as seriously beyond the pale, and will probably not be visited with rigorous punishment, will be fostered, and more will be tempted to indulge in it."

They said the sentence imposed by the commercial court lacked a deterrent element.

The R60,000 fine paid by Fielies would be refunded, they ordered.

-Sapa

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