Byline: Nonjabuliso Nhlambo

25 August 2022

Two accused former immigration officers, Robert Booth (53) and Berry Victor Weigemoed (35) were sentenced by the Nelspruit Commercial Crimes Court on 24 August 2022 for corruption.

The sentence followed their arrest by the Nelspruit based Hawks’ Serious Corruption Investigation team on Wednesday, 16 March 2022.

The accused were each sentenced to eight years imprisonment, of which half is suspended for five years on condition that they would not be found guilty of corruption charges during the period of suspension. The accused were also declared unfit to possess firearms.  

Hawks investigation successfully proved that on the 14 March 2022, the duo arrived at Kingstonvalle farm which is five (5) km away from Nelspruit travelling in a white sedan.  One of the accused wearing Home Affairs uniform approached the foreman, a foreign national, Joseph Njawal and asked if he and other eleven farm workers had work permits or relevant documents to permit them to stay and work in the Republic of South Africa. The foreman and other workers responded that they have passports and asylum seeker permits.

The duo then told them that they are going to be arrested if they do not have relevant papers.  They promised to arrange papers for them provided they pay R500 each. 

They also promised to come back on the 16 March 2022 to give them the papers and to collect money.

The matter was reported to the Hawks Nelspruit based Serious Corruption Investigation and an intelligence driven undercover operation was planned.  On the 16 March 2022, the accused returned to the farm to hand over the permits for the 12 farm workers in exchange for R5000. They were arrested immediately after receiving the money.

The Provincial Head of the Hawks Major General Mokoena welcomed the sentence and applauded the good work done by the investigation and prosecution team in securing such a sentence which we believe that it will serve as an example to those who think they are above the law.