LEGAL experts say remorse, age and an insignificant previous conviction record could save former police chief Jackie Selebi from a very long jail sentence.
Selebi, after being convicted of corruption on Friday, faces a minimum 15-year jail term.
Law expert Professor Pierre de Vos said Selebi's age, not very serious previous convictions and a history as an apartheid activist might work in his favour, while the fact that he was chief of police turned criminal could cost him dearly.
"He held the highest position in the police service, trusted by society to protect it against criminals. That is the strongest factor militating against him."
Selebi, 60, a struggle icon, will be sentenced on July 14.
Judge Meyer Joffe found that Selebi had got about R1,2 million from convicted drug trafficker Glen Agglioti, in return for immunity from arrest while he was national commissioner.
Professor Shadrack Ghutto said showing remorse might help Selebi during sentencing.
"There is still room for him to show remorse, admit that what he did was wrong. But in the end it depends on legal advice and the judge's discretion," he said.
There is speculation that Selebi will appeal his conviction and sentence. But, De Vos said, there was little chance of another court coming to a different finding.
"The defence laid grounds for an appeal when they questioned the objectivity of the judge and asked him to recuse himself. They could argue that it was not a fair trial. But appeals on cases like this, in which the accused was convicted based on credibility, are unsuccessful most of the time," De Vos said.