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A 37-YEAR-old Gugulethu man has been ordered to pay back R24 000 he was found guilty of stealing in an armed robbery last September.
National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Eric Ntabazalila said Nkululeko Tuntubele was sentenced last November to 15 years in prison, five of which were suspended for five years. He had stolen the cash from a victim who had just withdrawn it from a Woodstock bank.
Testifying in mitigation of sentence, the accused said he was a tavern owner, and that his staff would lose their jobs as a result of his imprisonment. “Hearing this, the prosecutor correctly decided that it was important to see that the accused did not benefit from his crime,” Ntabazalila said.
“The prosecutor decided that if the accused was operating a tavern, he surely had enough money to repay his victim who had, until then, not recovered his money.”
The State brought an application for the court to hold an inquiry into whether or not the accused had benefited as a result of the crime and, if so, what sum was involved.
“After the filing of several sets of documents, the accused consented that he had benefited from the offence in the amount of R24 000.”
On Thursday the Cape Town Regional Court issued a confiscation order, in terms of which the money must be paid into the Criminal Asset Recovery account, from where it will be paid to the complainant.
If Tuntubele did not repay the money, the NPA could apply to have the assets of his tavern attached and sold to recover the money.
Tuntubele is currently appealing his sentence, and is out on bail of R20 000. The R24 000 will become payable once the appeals process has been finalised.
“Asset forfeiture is a law enforcement tool that works in addition to criminal prosecution, with the main aim of taking the so-called ‘profit’ out of crime, and ensuring that no person benefits from his or her wrongdoing,” Ntabazalila said.
“A convicted person thus not only gets punished by a court of law for the offence, in this case armed robbery, but also pays back the proceeds of his or her crime with the primary object not to enrich the State, but rather to deprive the convicted person of ill-gotten gains,” he added.