Windhoek-Both the defence and the prosecution in the trial of Mark Wayne van Wyk, 29, who was convicted on 288 counts of fraud on his own admission, agreed during submissions on the sentence to be imposed that a custodial sentence of several years is unavoidable although they disagree on the jail term.
Jan Wessels, the State-funded lawyer of Van Wyk, implored Judge Naomi Shivute to show mercy on Van Wyk and sentence him to no more than six years with two years suspended, on condition that he is not convicted of a crime involving dishonesty during the time of suspension.
The State, represented by Salomon Kanyemba, on the other hand asked for a sentence of less than ten years with a part suspended with conditions to hang like the “sword of Damocles” over his head and for him to come out of prison a rehabilitated, repented and productive citizen.
According to Wessels, his client was a truthful and honest witness in court who spoke openly and honestly and did not try to deceive the court.
“My client accepted his responsibility for his mistake and is prepared to take his punishment – in fact, he himself said that he deserves his punishment,” Wessels stated.
He told the court that there is no dispute that Van Wyk admitted everything from the time he was arrested, and carried that through to the final stages of his trial.
Wessels urged the court to accept that Van Wyk showed genuine remorse for his misdeeds and said his guilty plea and his remorse were the two single most mitigating factors.
Kanyemba however told the court that Van Wyk had no other option to plead guilty as the evidence against him was overwhelming. He said that Van Wyk had no remorse because if he was sorry, he would have stopped the moment he realised what he was doing was unlawful.
“The accused had more than two years to stop and reflect on what he was doing, but instead he continued to steal from the hand that fed him. For him to come to court and claim he continued to steal in order to gamble in the hope that he could recover the stolen money, is just not feasible,” Kanyemba said.
He added that Van Wyk continued to commit the fraudulent activities to sustain a lavish lifestyle in front of his peers and called it most aggravating.
He said that society expects the court to protect them from such unscrupulous behaviour, adding that society trusts the banks to safeguard their hard-earned savings and if such crimes are left unpunished, society will lose their trust in the banks and in the courts.
He said that society expects the courts to send out a strong message that such crimes and all crimes indeed will not be tolerated.
Judge Shivute said she will deliver her sentence on January 31.