Former top cop Jackie Selebi was sentenced on Tuesday to 15 years imprisonment by Judge Meyer Joffe in the High Court in Johannesburg.
"I am satisfied that a sentence of 15 years imprisonment is appropriate in the matter," said Joffe.
Selebi was found guilty of corruption on 2 July for receiving payments from convicted drug trafficker Glenn Agliotti.
Former national police commissioner and president of Interpol, Selebi shook his head and blinked several times as Joffe read out the sentence.
Joffe called Selebi an embarrassment to the police.
He found it beyond understanding that Selebi thought that the court would accept evidence that he sometimes manufactured.
"If you thought the court would believe you, that is an embarrassment."
Joffe said Selebi was aware of his illustrious position and that police and citizens looked up to him.
Selebi's sentencing was preceded by Joffe explaining what he had taken into account when deciding on an appropriate sentence.
He had to balance punishment, retribution, the needs of society and whether there were compelling circumstances to deviate from a minimum sentence of 15 years.
Selebi could have said no when Agliotti approached him with money and gifts.
This would have been expected from a junior constable earning a pittance, the judge said.
Agliotti, who was appearing in a nearby court on murder charges, when asked if he had heard his one-time friend has been sentenced, said: "I believe so but I have no comment on that."
Judge Joffe said Selebi was aware of the obligations he held when he took office.