. after being arrested twice in 5 months
A former Mpumalanga highway patrol cop was jailed for an effective 15 years on Monday for a cash-in-transit heist that he was involved in during 2003.
Wiseman Mabasa, 39, a former patrol inspector attached to the Nelspruit police station, was convicted in the packed Mhala regional court.
Mabasa was arrested twice in five months for two separate cash-in-transit heists, the second of which took place in 2004.
He was arrested with six other suspects who had charges against them withdrawn due to lack of evidence.
Mabasa had been released on R12000 bail despite police having spent three days in court arguing against his release.
Police had argued that he should not be granted bail because he had been out on R5000 bail when the second armed robbery took place.
"Mabasa also tried to destroy evidence by sending a prisoner to remove the number plates from his private vehicle that was being kept as evidence at Mhala police station," Serious and Violent Crime Unit Inspector Kenneth Nkuna told the court.
Inspector Nkuna also told the court that the number plates had been false.
He then accused Mabasa of asking a policeman to destroy the gun used in the first heist.
The court dismissed Nkuna's arguments because Mabasa was never charged with trying to defeat the ends of justice.
The court also said there was not enough evidence linking him to the second heist and it could not therefore be argued that he had participated in it while on bail.
Mabasa was first arrested on November 2 2003 in connection with a heist along the White City-Hluvukani road in Bushbuckridge.
He was released on R5000 bail. In March the following year he was arrested again about an hour after four heavily-armed men in a bakkie fired at a D&L Patrols security van, forcing it off the road between Islington and Thulamahashe.
He was then granted bail again, this time for R7000, taking his total bail amount to R12000.
Mabasa recently accused Mpumalanga police management of abusing the law by expelling him from his workplace, which he said caused him to lose his house.
The police retaliated by saying he was the one who abused the law because of his criminal activities.
Mpumalanga police commissioner Afrika Khumalo welcomed the sentence.
"The commissioner has said on several occasions that crime, including that which is committed by our own members, cannot be tolerated," said Khumalo's spokesperson, Superintendent Sibongile Nkosi, yesterday.
"He therefore welcomed the sentence because it will send a crystal clear message to others [in the security forces] with similar motives," Nkosi said.