A former Gauteng area manager for Musica has obtained a court order setting aside his conviction and a R170 000 fine imposed on him in his absence and without him even being asked to plead to the charges.
Judge Selby Baqwa granted an order to John William Cilliers of Stellenbosch in Cape Town, setting aside his conviction and “admission of guilt” fine imposed on him by a magistrate of the Pretoria Commercial Crimes court in 2008.
Cilliers said in court papers he was never asked to plead to the charges, let alone attend the trial or sign a plea and sentence agreement and it appeared the trial had been conducted in his absence.
Cilliers was an area manager for a number of Musica branches in Gauteng when their Menlyn store was raided by the police in March 2007.
He was surprised when an inspector of the trade and industry department informed him that certain cards and controllers in the store were counterfeit, as Musica’s head office in Cape Town, which ordered stock, had always supplied genuine goods.
When summons was served on him to appear on criminal charges, head office assured him not to worry as they would engage professionals to represent him.
Cilliers said he had believed that he could continue with his life after the magistrate met with him, Musica’s merchandise executive and their attorney in July 2008, and told him he was no longer required at court.
He read in a newspaper article that Musica had been fined R170 000 for contravening the Counterfeit Goods Act. He gave it no more thought until he was transferred to Namibia in 2015 and had to obtain a police clearance certificate for his visa.
Since 2015 he had been unable to find a job because of his “criminal record”.