Former Oshakati magistrate sent to jail for two years

Former Oshakati magistrate Melanie Theron, who was found guilty on multiple charges of corruption in the High Court here last month (August), was on Friday sent to jail for an effective total of two (2) years.

The former magistrate was found guilty and sentenced on 16 counts of corruption, fraud, bribery and extortion stemming from allegations that she wrongly and corruptly used her office for gratification when she solicited and accepted a number of bribes to withdraw traffic tickets against offenders during her stay at the northern town of Oshakati in Oshana Region between February 2010 and August 2011.

The 16 counts were taken together as one charge for the purposes of sentencing.

Theron was, thus, sentenced to four (4) years imprisonment of which two (2) years were suspended for a period of five (5) years on condition that she is not convicted of any offence of corruption or fraud during the period of suspension.

Theron was, therefore, sent to jail for an effective total of two (2) years.

'The offences you committed have led to the members of the public loosing confidence and trust in the country's justice system. The offences were committed at the expenses of the members of the public. Corruption is a serious offence which is on the rise in our society and it lower the moral tone of the members of the public, ' said High Court Judge Nate Ndauendapo when handing down the punishment.

The Judge further said the former magistrate's actions were just motivated by greed rather than the needs and 'in this case a direct custodial sentence is inevitable.'

Theron, 35, who conducted her own defence as she could no longer afford to pay for legal representation, asked the court for mercy and wanted the court to impose a wholly-suspended sentence.

She told the court she regretted her wrongful actions and cannot afford to pay a fine at the moment as she used all her pension pay-out money for the legal fees of her former private-instructed legal representation during the early stages of her case.

State Advocate Simba Nduna asked the court to impose a direct prison sentence of two years, which may be partly suspended for a period of five years on condition that the former magistrate is not convicted of any offence related to corruption or fraud.

Nduna said Theron, as a magistrate, was supposed to strictly uphold the rule of law, adding that as a result of her wrong actions several members of the public have now lost trust in the country's justice systems and the judiciary.

Evidence presented during trial showed Theron had accepted a total of about N.dollars 6 600 from various people who were accused of traffic offences before police arrest.

Theron is a first-time offender with no records of previous criminal convictions.

She is a single mother of a nine-year-old child.

Source: Namibia Press Agency