Another postponement in Conradie corruption trial

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Dogged by disruptions since its supposed start almost two weeks ago, the trial in which Windhoek lawyer Dirk Conradie and his co-accused, Sara Ngenohani Damases, face charges of corruption was postponed again – to May 7.

This time the postponement was for the new senior counsel for Damases, the ex-wife of Deputy Chief Justice Petrus Damaseb, to consult with each other.

Damases managed to obtain the services of James Diedericks as her legal counsel for the duration of the trial.
This was necessitated by the withdrawal of Vas Soni, SC, from South Africa who cited possible conflict of interest should he represent both accused.

Diedericks immediately asked Acting Judge Thomas Masuku for the remand, not only to consult with his client, but to study the special plea they want to lodge and possibly make amendments to it.

In the special plea, the accused want the court to declare the tape recordings that were made of their conversation with the owners of DV8 Saatchi and Saatchi, Mark Bongers and Kim Fields, unlawful.

They claim that neither of them gave permission for Bongers and Fields to tape a private conversation, saying that it is unconstitutional.

According to the special plea, the defendants argue that the indictment is invalid in respect of counts 1, 2 and 3 because they are “founded on evidence that has been secured illegally and improperly and also in violation of the constitutional rights of the accused”.

They also claim that the High Court has no jurisdiction to adjudicate on count 4.
Counts 1 to 3 deal with the contravention of the Anti-Corruption Act and relate to both accused while count 4 deals with contravening the Companies Act and relates to Conradie alone.

According to the indictment, the accused are guilty of corruptly soliciting or agreeing to accept for the benefit of himself or another person a gratification as an inducement or reward to influence procuring a contract, in count one.
In count 2 they are guilty of corruptly using office or position to obtain a gratification for himself or another person, the indictment states.

Count 3 states that both are guilty of attempting or conspiring to contravene the previous allegations and count 4 alleges that Conradie failed to disclose an interest in a contract of significance to be entered into by the company.
They were arrested in June 2012 after Mark Bongers and his wife Kim Field – owners of advertising agency DV8 Saatchi and Saatchi – allegedly availed a tape recording of Conradie soliciting a bribe from them to the ACC.

Conradie allegedly told Bongers that he would use his position as chair of the MTC Board to ensure that DV8 gets the telecommunication giant’s N$60 million advertising tender in turn for them taking Damases on board as a black economic empowerment (BEE) equity in their company.

The recordings were allegedly made by Bongers in a meeting held at the Conradie & Damaseb law firm’s offices on June 12, 2012.

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