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KwaZulu-Natal - The State witness in the Mountain Rise police station corruption trial broke down on the stand on Tuesday when he spoke of his modest education and a childhood spent in an orphanage.
A teary-eyed Stanley Naidoo was responding to claims by the defence that he was the mastermind behind the scam at the police station.
The past month in the Pietermaritzburg High Court has been trying for Naidoo, who completed his evidence on Tuesday.
He has been grilled under cross-examination by five advocates and at one stage collapsed on the witness stand.
Naidoo, a policeman who has been giving evidence since August 15, is in the witness protection programme after saying he feared for his life and those of his family members.
Former station commander Hariram Badul, former captain Suresh Naraindath, former police superintendent Yunus Khan, Constable Patrick Nkabini, and businessman Sigamoney Pillay, are being tried on 98 charges ranging from fraud and racketeering to theft and corruption.
Naidoo worked in the supply chain management department at the station, under Naraindath, when Badul was appointed commander in January 2007, and is the key witness against them.
Naidoo has alleged that Badul was the mastermind behind a scheme in which the then-top cop fraudulently requisitioned supplies for the station with the intention of putting them to personal use.
Naidoo has said he forged Badul’s signature on hundreds of fraudulent requisition forms. He is to be given indemnity from prosecution if his testimony is deemed credible.
The defence is submitting that Naidoo was the mastermind behind the scam, and that he alone benefited from his years of fraudulent activity.
It was suggested to Naidoo under cross-examination that there were no other state witnesses corroborating his story and that he was falsely implicating Badul and his alleged accomplices to cover his own tracks.
After lengthy cross-examination from all five defence advocates, Judge Rashid Vahed and two assessors asked Naidoo a few questions in clarification of his evidence.
Questioned about his level of education and why the defence would suggest that he was the mastermind behind the scheme, Naidoo broke down.
He told the court he completed matric and had lived in the Aryan Benevolent Home for Children from the age of four until he completed his schooling at the age of 18.
“I am still emotional about it,” Naidoo said, his voice cracking as he wiped away the tears.
Naidoo said he was not capable of masterminding a scheme as grand as this one, and was used and abused by Badul and Naraindath.
“I am speaking the truth. I live a basic life and don’t have large amounts of money or exclusive things. No State equipment was found in my house. I was used,” he said.
Naidoo said that for him to pull off a scheme like this was “too huge” and “not possible”. “I only complied with the instructions I was given by Badul and Naraindath. I had no choice.”
The trial continues with more State witnesses.