A FORMER magistrate found guilty on 16 charges of corruption and defeating or obstructing the course of justice was sent to prison for an effective period of two years at the end of her trial in the Windhoek High Court today.
Judge Nate Ndauendapo sentenced law graduate and former magistrate Melaney Theron (35) to four years' imprisonment, of which two years were suspended for a period of five years on condition that she is not again convicted of corruption or defeating or obstructing the course of justice, committed during the period of suspension.
The judge told Theron during the sentencing that for a magistrate to be convicted of corruption was "like an earthquake", and that she had brought the reputation of the judiciary as a whole into disrepute through her corrupt activities.
Theron broke the oath she had taken to uphold the law, judge Ndauendapo commented.
He also noted that she expressed remorse over the crimes she committed, but added it was inevitable that she would be sentenced to a period of imprisonment.
Judge Ndauendapo found Theron guilty on five charges of defeating or obstructing the course of justice, five counts of corruptly using an office or position to obtain gratification, five charges of fraudulently concealing an offence, and a charge of corruptly accepting gratification in July this year.
The crimes she was convicted of were committed between May 2011 to 15 August 2011, when Theron was stationed at the Oshakati Magistrate's Court, where she accepted amounts of money totalling N$5 500 from various people charged with traffic offences. She used the money that she accepted in exchange for cancelling the charged persons' traffic tickets for her personal benefit.
Theron was arrested and charged in August 2011.
She informed the court after she had been convicted that she has been unemployed since she lost her job as a magistrate, and that she has been unable to find employment during the past eight years because of the criminal charges that were pending against her.