By Alex Mitchley (Source: News24)
Johannesburg – The Pretoria Magistrate’s Court has sentenced former Crime Intelligence chief financial officer Major General Solomon Lazarus to 10 years imprisonment on corruption charges.
Lazarus had been involved in acquiring cars for crime intelligence from Atlantis Motors, a service provider to the South African Police Service.
He did this through a front company created by the SAPS, Universal Technical Enterprises CC. The close corporation was operated for the purchase of covert vehicles to be utilised in covert projects for crime intelligence.
UTE bought several new and used vehicles from Atlantis Motors, which was owned by Jan Venter.
UTE created a special account which allowed Venter to allocate money taken from some transactions relating to the sale of used vehicles, to the account and this money was intended for use by Lazarus.
His co-accused, Colonel Heine Johannes Barnard, was acquitted on all charges, while Lazarus was acquitted on theft and fraud charges.
Magistrate Adrian Bekker found Lazarus guilty of corruption for the dodgy purchases of a KIA Picanto, a Nissan Murano, a Honda CBR motorcycle, and a Honda TRX 250 All Terrain Vehicle (ATV).
“The court is indeed satisfied beyond that the facts regarding the Honda ATV prove corruption beyond reasonable doubt as alleged in count three.
“The next vehicle is the KIA Picanto.
“If I look at the totality of the evidence on this particular aspect, the court rejects accused one’s version as inherently improbable, and in fact, false and the court finds that indeed he received this particular vehicle without ever paying for it and the court then specifically rejects the version that this was added to the financing of the other vehicle.
“Accused one received gratification to the value of R55 000.00, the KIA Picanto, it was unjustifiable gratification and my reasoning is similar to the previous benefit in that accused one at the time was a senior public official and he held a position of trust, he was involved in the purchases of vehicles for Crime Intelligence from Atlantis Motors for over 20 years, for over R 69 000 000,” the court said.
In the judgment, the court said Lazarus should have acted with integrity as he was the person that, in the end, finally approved the purchases and he held a vital position and both of them knew that.
“He had to act, as a result, to distance himself from approaches or offers from service providers. If you are prepared to receive a vehicle for the value of about R 55 000 without paying for it, you clearly abused your position as a public official, in relation to the service provider who is obviously trying to retain your goodwill with some gratification.
“The gratification is not justified and it is unlawful. He was not entitled to it as a public official, and again I can state, he knew that by receiving this gratification, he acted unlawfully, but he nevertheless received it.
“It makes no difference if he did do anything in favour of Atlantis or not as a result of the gratification. It was given and received with the tacit understanding that it will confirm their relationship and that is the only reasonable inference I can draw, from the facts,” the ruling said.
In the case of a Honda CBR15 motorbike, which was bought for the use of Lazarus’s son for his birthday in March 2011.
“The court is indeed satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the facts regarding the Nissan 10 Murano, proved corruption beyond reasonable doubt as alleged in count three.
“Lastly, pertaining to the Honda CBR125, it is not in dispute that the CBR was selected by accused one’s son and that he bought it for his birthday in March 2011.
“It is also not disputed that the invoice for it was dated February 1, 2001, it was paid from the Barut account on February 28, the amount R27 432.29.
“In accused one’s plea explanation he mentioned that he bought this vehicle for his son from Honda and was assisted by one, Barry.
“The court rejects accused one’s version, taking into account the totality of the evidence, that there was a so-called credit transaction or in-house financing, as false, unconvincing and not reasonably, possibly true.
“My finding pertaining to this particular motorcycle is that this was also an unlawful, unjustified gratification received by accused one, to the value of R 27 432.29,” said Bekker.