Mercy for man who spat in ice cream but he still serves 13 years behind bars

Mercy for man who spat in ice cream but he still serves 13 years behind bars. Picture: File

Mercy for man who spat in ice cream but he still serves 13 years behind bars. Picture: File

Published Jun 3, 2024


A former McDonald’s employee who was two years ago sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment after spitting on a customer’s ice cream and using a video clip of the act to get money from his employer was now on appeal shown some mercy when the court slightly reduced his sentence to an effective 13 years.

Clement Othusitse Seothaeng was convicted in the Pretoria North Magistrate’s Court on charges of malicious damage to property and extortion. He received a 15-year effective sentence.

On appeal to the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, he complained that the sentence meted out to him was shockingly high and he argued that as both charges were related, the magistrate should have ordered that they run concurrently.

His convictions followed after he spat in a McFlurry ice cream and used this to extort money from the food chain outlet.

Seothaeng had been working at McDonald’s restaurant in Montana as a crew member for two years.

On September 23, 2017, while at work Seothaeng recorded himself in a 20-second video clip with his phone preparing a McFlurry ice cream without showing his face.

It showed a person who was wearing a uniform.

However, when preparing the sweet treat, he spat inside the McFlurry ice cream. He then mixed his saliva into it and closed the cap.

After recording himself, he sent the clip to the manager using a different cellphone number, pretending to be a concerned customer. He then demanded R100 000 in return for not circulating the clip on social media.

The manager reported the matter to the police and a trap was immediately set up. Seothaeng was arrested a few days later.

The incident occurred at the Zambezi McDonald’s restaurant and this outlet had to be closed afterwards.

On appeal, he claimed that the magistrate had misdirected himself in the sentence he imposed as he had shown him no mercy. Part of the argument was that the sentence imposed is totally out of proportion to the gravity or magnitude of the offences and that the sentence evokes a feeling of shock or outrage, as it is grossly excessive.

In opposing the appeal, the prosecuting authority argued that Seothaeng was convicted of serious offences and that his actions were premeditated. It contended that his conduct had the potential to cause dire consequences for the McDonald’s brand which is a multimillion-rand business.

It was said that even after he was detected, Seothaeng still demanded money. Due to his conduct, McDonald’s had to incur costs in employing consultants to monitor social media as well as instructing attorneys.

The court said his contention that the offence was motivated by anger towards his employer does not reduce the moral blameworthiness of his conduct. His actions were planned and he had an opportunity to calm down and change his mind.

The court said it is therefore not persuaded that the sentence of 10 years for extortion evokes a feeling of shock or outrage.

The court pointed out that Seothaeng had a trust relationship with McDonald’s as an employee. “By extorting R100 000 from his employer, the appellant broke trust which must be viewed in a serious light,” the court said.

The court, however, found that the malicious injury to property was committed with the expressed intention to extort money.

By ordering the sentences to run concurrently, it filters in the element of mercy which was lacking in the sentence passed by the lower court, the court said.

It ordered that two years of the five years meted out for malicious injury to property should run concurrently with the 10-year extortion sentence.

Pretoria News

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