Court hears of payments to politicians

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Copy of DF block 0402 a Danie Van der Lith Seen here are some of the files that will be used as evidence in the Trifecta court case. Picture: Danie Van der Lith

Kinberley - Evidence on payments from the Trifecta property group to three prominent Northern Cape politicians was heard in the Northern Cape High Court on Friday.

Judge Mathebe Phatshoane is presiding in the fraud and corruption trial of Northern Cape ANC heavyweights John Block, Alvin Botes, Yolanda Botha and Trifecta director Christo Scholtz.

The accused have pleaded not guilty to all the charges against them or their companies.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) alleges the Trifecta Group entered into a number of lease agreements with the Northern Cape social development department in which rentals, or rental space, were grossly inflated.

A State witness, PWC forensic auditor Trevor White, testified to the detail of renovations to Yolanda Botha's house in Kimberley.

The court heard some of the expenses at Botha's house were mixed up with other renovation expenses done on Trifecta buildings in Kimberley.

“There are two piles of documents with similar information,” White submitted after showing two documented examples.

White gave evidence that more than R262 000 had been advanced to the benefit of Botha before a loan agreement was allegedly signed between her and Scholtz.

“The document was obtained after an investigation by the national Parliament.”

White testified that there was no indication that Trifecta treated the money to Botha's renovations as a loan.

“It was not recorded as a loan,” he submitted, adding that he expected to find more entries of expenses and incomes in the general ledger, such as with a normal loan account.

In her plea explanation, Botha confirmed Trifecta did renovations at her house, which started in September 2009.

More evidence was heard as to how a trust with beneficiaries of Botha's family, the Jyba Trust, became a shareholder in Trifecta Investment Holdings.

White testified that Scholtz sold a 10 percent share, estimated to be worth around R6 million, in Trifecta Investment Holdings to the Jyba Trust for R100.

The court also heard about a payment of more than R228 000 to Block's company, Chisane Investments, from the Shosholosa Trust, which was a shareholder in Trifecta Investment Holdings.

In his plea explanation, Block said the money was for legitimate business between two Northern Cape businessmen.

Block told the court at the time he earned no salary from a political position and as a businessman he had to fend for himself.

White testified to another payment of R500 000 from the Trifecta group to Block.

Block indicated in his plea explanation this was a payment for “assistance provided in the management of business affairs”.

In further testimony, White indicated renovations to Block's Upington Guesthouse were also mixed up with renovations of the Oranje Hotel building.

This building belonged to Trifecta, which the company leased to the Northern Cape department of social development later.

White submitted there was an attempt to differentiate between the cost of the guesthouse and the Oranje building.

However, there were no claims against Block in the books of Trifecta, the court heard.

Block has acknowledged renovations of more than R340 000 to his Upington guesthouse with the help of a business friend, Sarel Breda, a shareholder in the Trifecta group.

Nevertheless, Block denies any unlawfulness in these payments.

White also led evidence of Trifecta payments to Alvin Botes, which was said to be salary payments.

These payments were done in the months before he became the provincial MEC of social development.

The trial continues.

Sapa



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