A taxi driver is to be sentenced on Thursday for corruption in addition to drunken driving after he tried to bribe traffic officers.
The incident happened late at night, after Thanduxele Sotsopo, 46, a married father, had shared a bottle of whisky at a braai, and drunk cider as well, a court in Cape Town heard on Wednesday.
Sotsopo pleaded guilty to charges of drunken driving and corruption, when he appeared in the Goodwood Regional Court, before magistrate Constance Nziweni.
Prosecutor Barry van der Berg told the court this was Sotsopo’s second drunken driving offence, and that he was fined R2 500 or three months, nine years ago.
Defence advocate Thembela Mbebe said Sotsopo had pleaded guilty to the current offence as an indication of remorse.
He said Sotsopo, a taxi owner-driver belonging to the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association, had joined other owner-drivers for a late-night braai in September 2014.
He said Sotsopo had shared a bottle of whisky with his colleagues at the braai, and had also consumed two bottles of cider, before driving home.
On his way home, in his private Toyota Fortuner, he was stopped for failure to stop at red traffic lights on Monte Vista Boulevard, in Cape Town’s northern suburbs.
The lawyer said Sotsopo was confronted by traffic officers Craig Schietekat and Edwin Hull, who arrested him on suspicion of drunken driving.
The lawyer said Sotsopo “begged not to be arrested”, and offered the officers R1 000.
The officers refused the bribe, and charged him with corruption as well, the lawyer said.
The lawyer urged the court to give Sotsopo a “second chance”, and not jail him. He suggested a R20 000 fine for drunken driving, and an additional fine of R5 000 for corruption.
He said Sotsopo was able to pay the R5 000 fine immediately, and wished to pay off the remaining R20 000.
The prosecutor said Sotsopo had pleaded guilty to the more serious offence of drunken driving, but that his blood-alcohol count was 0,24 percent – an indication that he was “heavily under the influence of liquor”.
He said all that was in Sotsopo’s favour was that his previous conviction was so long ago.
He said the case called for a prison sentence, but the fact that Sotsopo had driven home in his private vehicle, and not a taxi full of passengers, suggested that the court might consider giving him a second chance.
If the court decides on a fine, “it has to be a heavy one”, he said.
-African News Agency (ANA)