Pretoria - A traffic officer who was earlier convicted on corruption charges after he asked for bribes from motorists driving luxury cars whom he claimed were speeding, will have to serve his seven years behind bars.
Zahid Bhayat turned to the North West High Court, sitting in Mahikeng, to appeal against his conviction on three charges of corruption and his sentence.
He told the court that the magistrate who had convicted him had made a mistake, as he knew nothing about the incidents. He also complained that the sentence was too harsh as he was the breadwinner of his family.
But Judge AH Petersen found that all fingers pointed to him as the officer who insisted on bribes. The judge said seven years in jail was not a harsh sentence, especially as Bhayat had shown no remorse for what he had done.
He was a traffic officer stationed at Potchefstroom and conducted patrols along the N12 between Potchefstroom and Klerksdorp. The court was told that on May 5, 2017, he stopped Shaun Pillay and told him he had been speeding. Pillay, who was driving a Mercedes-Benz, wanted to see the reading on the camera, but Bhayat refused. He told Pillay he could make the speed reading disappear for R5 000.
When Pillay indicated that he did not have R5 000, Bhayat told him he had a “fancy” car and had to have R5 000 in his bank account. He directed Pillay to the bank and said he would follow him and wait in his car for the money.
Pillay drove to a mall where he withdrew two amounts, R3 000 and R2 000, and he gave the cash to Bhayat.
Pillay later reported the incident to the Hawks.
He said he got a glimpse of the officer’s badge and his name was stated as Bhayat.
Pillay told the court that it was not possible that he was speeding at the time, as he had set his cruise control on the vehicle because he knew the speed limit was 80km/h.
A month later, Bhayat stopped another “speeding” motorist – this time Nawaaz Carim, driving his Audi Q7. When Carim asked to see the camera reading, he saw it said “zero”.
The accused told Carim he was going to be arrested, but that he could “make a plan” if Carim paid him R2 000, which he did. Carim also said he saw the surname Bhayat on the officer’s name tag.
Three months later, while driving the same vehicle, which has a personalised number plate, and with his family in the vehicle, Carim was again pulled over by Bhayat, who alleged that he was once again driving over the speed limit.
Casim insisted that he was not and on this occasion Bhayat simply allowed him to leave.
In the third incident, a car dealer on his way to deliver a vehicle in Johannesburg also paid Bhayat R2 000 as a bribe.
This victim said he was in a hurry and he knew he had been speeding.
Bhayat denied involvement in any of the incidents. The judge said, however, that all three victims said the officer who approached them wore a badge identifying him as Z Bhayat.