Donovan Glossop faced a 15-year prescribed minimum prison sentence for the alleged illegal possession of a prohibited semi-automatic pistol.
The unlicensed possession of a firearm, in itself, justified a short jail sentence, but the possession of a prohibited firearm, such as a semi-automatic pistol, would see him put away for 15 years.
In a matter of minutes, however, defence lawyer Michelle van der Scholtz had him acquitted on the grounds that there was no case for him to meet.
Certainly, for Bellville Regional Court magistrate Constance Nziweni, it was one of the quickest acquittals she had ever experienced – and, possibly, the “fastest buck” that the lawyer had ever made.
It happened on Monday, when Glossop pleaded not guilty, not only to the possession of a prohibited firearm, but also to the possession of 13 rounds of ammunition in the pistol’s magazine.
The lawyer told the court she had explained the gravity of the charges to her client, and that he understood that he was facing 15 years in prison if convicted, unless she could persuade the court that there were substantial and compelling circumstances justifying a less severe sentence.
As it turned out, none of that was necessary.
A police constable told the court he was on vehicle patrol with a colleague, when they noticed two suspicious-looking men together, leaning against a wall that was waist-high.
As they approached Glossop and his companion, they noticed a movement, like something being thrown over the wall.
Glossop’s companion fled, and they retrieved the pistol with ammunition, on the other side of the wall, he said.
The scales of justice swung in Glossop’s favour when the constable was briefly put under cross-examination by the lawyer.
The constable did not know who had thrown the pistol over the wall – all he could testify to was a “quick movement” that he had seen.
The lawyer asked for an acquittal, and the prosecutor said he had no objection.
Pronouncing Glossop not guilty, the magistrate said it was “no wonder” that the prosecutor had no objection to Glossop’s acquittal.
“You have no case to meet – you are found not guilty and may go,” she told him.
– African News Agency (ANA)