Conradie trial finally kicks off

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The trial in which prominent Windhoek lawyer Dirk Conradie, 53, and his friend Sara Ngenohani Damases, 49, face charges of corruption resumed in the High Court yesterday.

Gerson Hinda, senior counsel, representing Damases, on instructions of James Diedericks, informed the court that his client would join Conradie in an application of special plea of jurisdiction in which the two accused are challenging the legality of the evidence of certain recordings of meetings that took place between them and some police investigators.

The hearing in connection with the special plea of jurisdiction commenced yesterday morning with Conradie’s defence lawyer, South African Vas Soni, senior counsel, presenting his heads of argument.

On April 20 this year Damases was left with no legal representation after Soni instructed by Windhoek-based lawyer Slysken Makando had opted only to represent Conradie.
Acting Judge Thomas Masuku is presiding. Deputy Prosecutor-General Ed Marondedze represents the State.

This trial is set to run until May 15 2015. The two accused are each free on a warning.
Conradie and Damases were arrested after recordings were made of them allegedly trying to solicit bribes from advertising agency DV8 Saatchi & Saatchi.

In the recordings Conradie allegedly tells DV8 owners Mark Bongers and his wife Kim they have until June 18, 2012 to give his friend Damases a black economic empowerment (BEE) equity in their company, or risk losing out on the telecommunication giant MTC’s N$60 million advertising tender.

The recording was allegedly made by Bongers in a meeting held at Conradie & Damaseb law firm’s offices on June 12, 2012, when Conradie allegedly stated he would not allow Advantage Y&R, the agency that has had the MTC advertising tender for nearly 17 years, to continue with the N$60 million tender.

Conradie and Damases both face three charges under the Anti-Corruption Act for allegedly corruptly soliciting gratification for using influence in procuring a contract, corruptly using an office or position to obtain gratification, and attempting or conspiring to contravene sections of the Anti-Corruption Act.

Conradie alone is also facing a fourth charge in terms of the Companies Act, namely failing to disclose an interest in a contract of significance to be entered into by a company.
Conradie and Damases were arrested by the Anti-Corruption Commission on June 26, 2012 after Bongers allegedly availed the tape recording to the ACC, but the matter was withdrawn by magistrate Hileni Kavara on May 31, 2013, when the PG had not decided whether to prosecute or not.

The PG then decided the matter must be heard in the High Court and the two were re-summoned.

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