It must have been the most expensive slice of cheese Argentinian soccer fan Ernesto Soldati ever had.
If he had bought it legally, the plastic-wrapped slice of Gouda would have cost him only R12,99. However, because he stole it, he had to pay an admission of guilt fine of R200.
Soldati, 33, whose address in South Africa is unknown, had a quick tour of the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday night.
This came shortly after he was caught by security at the Shoprite store on the corner of Van der Walt and Church streets. Charged with theft at the special World Cup court, he claimed he was in the shop with friends who left him behind.
He was hungry, so Soldati took a 200g slice of cheese from the fridge and put it in his pocket. He tried to leave the shop, claiming he did not have the R12,99 to pay for the snack. But he was apprehended by the store’s security who had witnessed the theft.
That same day Soldati ended up in front of state prosecutor Advocate Clinton Pillay. He warned him of the implications of the offence, including that he would not easily be allowed back into South Africa having committed a crime.
Soldati admitted his wrongdoing and accepted the R200 fine. His friends, who sat outside the clerk of the cour’s office, said they all had to “club together” to come up with the money to pay the fine. If only they had managed to gather R12,99 earlier, the slice of cheese would not have made Soldati’s last night in the country so expensive.
Having arrived in South Africa earlier this month for the World Cup, Soldati said he was about to leave the country yesterday. It is unknown if this was due to his brush with the law.