Pretoria - A chocolate thief received more than he could chew when he was sentenced to a three year jail sentence by a magistrate who was fed-up with his petty thieving.
The Pretoria North magistrate sat with her hands in her hair over Tevain Swart’s (no age given) long fingers.
The theft of several chocolate bars at a Game outlet was the 15th time that he had appeared in court for petty theft.
His case came before the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria on review, where Judges Bert Bam and Sulet Potterill felt that a three year straight jail sentence for the theft of chocolates was simply too harsh.
Swart admitted that he had stolen the chocolates on September 23, last year and he was subsequently convicted of theft and send to jail. During the sentencing proceedings it came to light that he had 14 similar previous convictions.
He was on each of those occasions either cautioned and discharged or sentenced to suspended jail sentences.
Judge Bam said it is clear that the crimes committed by Swart are commonly referred to as “petty thefts”. He said: “However, theft is theft and the accused did not learn from his previous encounters with the law.”
The judge said it seemed that Swart had a tendency to reoffend and it cannot be excluded that he may suffer from kleptomania. This could possibly call for psychological treatment, he said.
The magistrate admitted to written questions posed to her by the judges that she may have been too harsh with Swart in sending him to jail for three years. But she said the 14 previous convictions weighed heavily on her mind.
Judge Bam said there were other sentencing options available than a three year straight jail sentence. He referred the matter back to the magistrate for reconsideration, but said a pre-sentencing report had to be called for to establish whether Swart suffered from a problem which caused him to have long fingers.