11 Sep 2013 04:40
KEETMANSHOOP, 11 SEP (NAMPA) A Keetmanshoop-based police officer who stole petrol in May last year, was found guilty of the offence and fined N.dollars 800 or five months in jail on Tuesday.
Warrant Officer Gert Strauss, 49, admitted in the Keetmanshoop Magistrates Court on Tuesday that he stole 25 litres of petrol by using a work petrol card to fuel his private vehicle.
The petrol card was assigned to him to fill up police vehicles in the Aroab Village, but instead, he filled a container with fuel, which he then took home and put into his private vehicle.
Strauss is currently on suspension.
Upon his admission of guilt, Magistrate Helena Nepembe convicted him of stealing fuel worth N.dollars 260.75.
Earlier in the court proceedings, his defence lawyer Callie le Roux argued that his client had no intention to steal, but was faced with a situation where he needed fuel, albeit with the intention to replace it the same day.
It was really a dumb thing for my client to do. However, at the moment, there is no loss to the police as my client already replaced the fuel. He is a first offender, and has children and a family he is taking care of.
I, therefore, request the court to consider giving him a fine of N.dollars 600 instead of a jail sentence, Le Roux argued.
However, State Prosecutor Georgitte Losper shot down those arguments, saying theft remains theft, regardless of whether an offender replaced the stolen property or item.
The State argued that as a police officer who had been in the force for more than 20 years dealing with crimes on a daily basis, Strauss is fully aware of the consequences of committing a crime, yet he committed it.
Police officers are placed in positions of trust, and to secure the combating of crimes in this country, not to contribute to crimes. The State, therefore, suggests a fine of N.dollars 1 500 or five months imprisonment, Losper submitted.
Reading the verdict, Nepembe said the court considered the fact that Strauss is a first-time offender, and has children to take care of. However, that does not give him the right to act in the manner he did.
The magistrate said the court also wants to protect the interest of the public, and sentences given are not only to deter the offender from committing crimes, but to also deter those who may wish to commit crimes in future.
Meanwhile, a high-ranking source within the police force here told Nampa on condition of anonymity that Strauss case is very serious, and his chances of being reinstated are equal to zero.