Once they pledged themselves to uphold and enforce the law, and looked forward to a state pension – now three senior police officers will end their years in jail.
On Monday, the West Rand Organised Crime unit head, Senior Superintendent Petros Dumisani Jwara, 47, was sentenced to an effective 25 years in jail for operating a drug syndicate for more than five years.
Jwara’s co-accused, Inspector Victor Mpho Jwili, 42, and Captain Ratsheki Landro Mokgosani, 42, were effectively ordered to sit for 22 and 20 years respectively for their role in managing and maintaining the syndicate operations.
In convicting and sentencing the three officers, Judge Nico Coetzee made history as he became the first judicial officer to send local police officers to jail for racketeering.
The three were convicted on October 17. In his ruling, Judge Coetzee found that the officers – led by Jwara, who was also their unit commander – illegally intercepted drugs at OR Tambo International Airport, and confiscated some from dealers under the pretext of conducting criminal investigations.
These drugs were then sold to people in Hillbrow, Pretoria and other parts of Gauteng.
“The fact that the accused were police officers adds to the seriousness of the crime. They were high-ranking police officials, particularly (Jwara and Mokgosani). They were highly regarded by their colleagues, who held them in a position of trust. But they abused that ,” Judge Coetzee said.
“The crimes committed by the accused were on a continuous basis. They were well planned, and executed with military precision,” Judge Coetzee said.
“You were appointed in a special section of the SAPS to combat crime. But you used state resources to commit crime.”
Jwara received an additional 55 years for other charges relating to drug dealing, fraud, defeating the ends of justice, theft and attempted theft. Jwara must serve 25 years of his sentence before he is eligible for parole.
Jwili was also given an additional 55 years. Mokgosani received an additional 32 years in jail.
The judge found that Mokgosani joined the syndicate only in May 2007.
Jwili and Mokgosani must serve 22 and 20 years respectively before they are eligible for parole.
Convicting all of them for racketeering, Judge Coetzee accepted the stipulations of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act that organised crime, money laundering and criminal gang activity present a danger to public order and safety. He also accepted that organised crime posed an international security threat.
National Director of Public Prosecutions advocate Menzi Simelane welcomed the verdict against the three. He said this was the “first case where the State secured a conviction and sentencing for racketeering involving senior law enforcement officers.
“The conviction follows excellent co-operation between the police and our prosecutors, who presented a formidable case.”
In mitigation of sentence, the accused had earlier told the judge that they had close family ties. Father-of-seven Jwara told the court he is divorced, but reconciling with his wife.
Jwili told the court that his parents were still alive and relied on him. He lived with his wife, who is a teacher, and they have two children.
Mokgosani told the court he had four children and lived with his life partner, who earns R3 000.
However, the judge rejected their submissions, saying “mitigating factors as stated by the accused are far outweighed by the aggravating factors. Number one, you do not take responsibility for your actions; you still believe you didn’t commit any crime; you show no remorse, and it is a known fact that people who show no remorse do not get easily rehabilitated”.
Judge Coetzee denied their application for leave to appeal, but granted them permission to petition Judge Lex Mpati, president of the Supreme Court of Appeal.
This, Judge Coetzee said, needed to be done within 21 working days.
Their bail was extended, but they must report to a police station daily and cannot leave the magisterial districts of Gauteng and North West without informing the investigating officer, Captain Alfred Sizani.