In a ruling delivered Friday by Deputy Judge President Hosea Angula on behalf of Acting Judge Thomas Masuku on the jurisdiction of the Windhoek High Court to adjudicate on one of the charges prominent Windhoek-based lawyer Dirk Conradie, 55, is facing, Conradie was successful in his challenge.
Judge Masuku ruled that the Namibian High Court does not have jurisdiction to adjudicate on the charge, as the alleged offence was committed outside Namibia’s borders.
Conradie had challenged the jurisdiction of the court, as the board meeting to decide the award of the advertising tender was held in Portugal. Masuku thus ruled that Namibian courts cannot adjudicate on it.
According to an affidavit deposed by his legal counsel, Advocate Slysken Makando, there is no allegation in any of the State’s documents that Conradie was a member of a specified company or firm, such as is envisaged in the Companies Act, which had an interest in the tender.
Conradie and his long-time friend, Sara Damases, 50, face various charges relating to an alleged bribe offered to secure Damases a stake in an advertising agency. They are jointly indicted on three charges under the Anti-corruption Act: 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 also faces 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. It is alleged by the State that Conradie promised advertising company DV8 Saatchi and Saatchi that he would use his influence as chairperson of the board of MTC to get them MTC’s advertising contract, worth N$60 million, in exchange for them taking on Damases as a partner. This reportedly happened during a meeting in Conradie’s law offices on June 12, 2012.
But, unbeknown to Conradie, the directors of the company he met with secretly recorded the conversation and later handed the recording to the ACC.
Conradie and Damases already entered a special plea that the recordings were made without their consent and, as such, infringed on their constitutional rights and hold that Conradie cannot be tried under the Anti-Corruption Act, as he was not a public officer, as stipulated in the Act.
The application was, however, dismissed. Judge Masuku said it would be premature, as the State has the obligation to lead evidence to prove the allegations and must be afforded an opportunity to do so.
State Advocate Ed Marondedze opposed the application and argued that as MTC is registered as a Namibian entity the Namibian courts have jurisdiction to hear the matter. He further held that it is Namibian public money that is at stake and the High Court is the correct place to oversee the matter.
Conradie is represented by Vas Soni SC from South Africa and Damases by Advocate Gerson Hinda SC, instructed by Diedericks Inc.