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A former Pinetown magistrate’s theft conviction should be set aside because the State did not establish his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Advocate Jimmy Howse argued this in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on behalf of Mbongeni Frederick Mathe on Thursday. The conviction and three years in jail should be set aside, he said.
Mathe was found guilty by the Durban Regional Court in 2007 of stealing R11 000, part of a deceased estate. He had received R15 000 from Cynthia Jili, a representative of the estate, and distributed R5 000 to the beneficiaries.
The remaining R10 000 was to have been deposited in a trust account by the clerk of the court for transmission to the Master’s office. The State alleged Mathe pocketed the money. But he maintains that he gave the money to the clerk – a Mr Zondi – with instructions to accompany Jili to make the deposit.
Howse said the issue was whether Mathe had given the money to Zondi. He argued that the court should find in Mathe’s favour. The trial magistrate had incorrectly relied on Jili’s evidence and rejected Mathe’s version.
Johan du Toit, for the State, said if Mathe was not guilty, why had he not reported his suspicions that Zondi had stolen the money and why had he later paid Jili R2 000.
Judgment was reserved. - The Mercury