27th March, 2012
A Nigerian, Vuyani Vongwe was on Monday sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment by a South African Magistrate’s Court for being in possession of a skimming device used to clone bank cards.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) said that the sentence was however, suspended for five years.
Vongwe appeared before Magistrate Amrith Chabillal at the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crimes Court in Cape Town.
The Prosecutor, Emeralda Johnson, told the court that Vongwe had previously been jailed twice for armed robbery.
Johnson suggested in his argument, that a heavy fine would send the message that convicted credit card offenders could not expect leniency from the courts.
But the defence attorney, Howard Andrews, said the convictions were in the 1990s and were of no relevance to the current charge.
In his ruling, Chabillal said that skimming devices could scan confidential information from bank cards and enable the production of counterfeit cards to be used in defrauding people.
“The reason for the Electronic Communications Act was to protect innocent consumers whose cards landed in the wrong hands.
“Though financial constraints had forced you to abandon your studies, the suspended jail sentence is your opportunity to make a fresh start; you are intelligent enough to know that study and education will put you on the correct road.
“Keep your nose out of trouble and stay out of jail, because if you end up in a criminal court again, this suspended sentence will be put into operation,” Chabillal said.
The magistrate declared that the skimming device be forfeited to the state and ordered that it be destroyed.