By Sandile Nkambule | 2018-09-12
FORMER Eswatini Royal National Airways Corporation (ERNAC) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Charles ‘Ace’ Jele who was convicted of stealing E400 000 from his employer was yesterday sentenced to five years in prison without a fine option.
He was immediately whisked away in a police vehicle to the place he will call home for the coming years.
Principal Judge Qinsile Mabuza suspended two years of the five-year sentence on condition he pays back the money. This effectively means that Jele will do time in jail for three years. He began his sentence yesterday. The total sum of money he stole from his employer is E414 781 84 which was stolen on four different occasions as he was facing a total of four counts which he pleaded guilty to. On the first count, he was found guilty to have stolen E34 080, on the second count he stole E45 000 and on the third count he stole E13 736 while on the last count he stole E321 965, totalling to the E414 781 84. When passing sentence yesterday morning, Judge Mabuza took into account that Jele is 60 years of age and that he is a first offender who lost his job after being fired as a result of the theft from his employer. Judge Mabuza also took into account that Jele went through a disciplinary process and that he was before court in respect of the same matter hence the court is of the view that he was being punished twice for the same transgression. Citing the former Mhlatane principal corruption case, Judge Mabuza also took into account that a jail sentence would be hard on Jele and considered a suspended sentence ordering repayment as per the Rex versus Makhubu matter. “The crime with which the accused is charged has become steadily prevalent, that is, in stealing from an employer, the accused in this case abused the position of trust that he occupied, the amount stolen may seem small but the complainant suffered prejudice as a result of the accused’s theft, what is most disturbing is that he was a CEO at his place of employment which means he was completely trusted,” Judge Mabuza said. She mentioned that Jele previously enjoyed a position of respect and esteem in the community as CEO, however high standards of behaviour are expected of those who hold responsible positions. Society according to Judge Mabuza expects protection of the courts against criminals, adding that the public expects and requires that proper sentences are passed by courts as an expression of its disapproval and to deter would-be criminals. “In the circumstances I make the following order, the accused is sentenced to five years imprisonment without an option of a fine, two years of which are suspended on condition that he repays the sum of E414 781 84 to the complainant through the Registrar of the High Court,” Judge Mabuza pronounced. Immediately after sentencing, the police wasted no time as his fingerprints were taken and was whisked to His Majesty’s Correctional Services (HMCS) facility after a committal warrant had been signed. Representing the crown in the matter was principal crown counsel Thabo Dlamini while Jele was represented by senior lawyer Ben J Simelane.
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