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Kimberley - The real victims of the Intaka fraud scandal - Northern Cape taxpayers who saw their hard-earned money being allegedly used to line the pockets of several high-profile politicians - will have to wait longer for justice to take its course, after the case was postponed for another year.
The R42 million case involving fraud, corruption and money laundering charges, relating to the purchase of water purifiers and oxygen tanks, was yesterday remanded until January 30 2014 in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court.
The delay is due to an outstanding racketeering certificate that has yet to be issued by the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP).
The accused, ANC provincial chairman John Block, Uruguayan businessman Dr Gaston Savoi, his personal assistant Alicia Marcos, Intaka co-director Fernando Praderi, former Department of Health officials Sanjay Mittah, Deon Madyo and Daniel Gaborone, who is still employed at health, arrived in a courtroom that was noticeably void of ANC supporters and MECs.
The MEC for Social Development, Alvin Botes, made a scant appearance along with ANC Youth League members who pledged their support for their embattled leader.
Court proceedings are hanging in the balance pending an application to challenge the racketeering charges that Savoi and Praderi are facing in kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN).
The racketeering charges in the Northern Cape are dependent on the outcome of this decision.
Advocate Francois van Zyl, SC, stated that his clients Savoi, Praderi and Intaka Holdings would turn to the Constitutional Court, should the KZN High Court not rule in their favour.
“If we are lucky, the Constitutional Court will only make a ruling during the second half of 2014.”
He added that his clients would also seek an application for a permanent stay of prosecution, due to the numerous delays in the case.
“Everything is up in the air with respect to the KZN trial.”
Attorney Bertus Joubert appearing for Deon Madyo, the former Head of Department for Health, pointed out that the State had not taken the necessary steps to refer the matter to the High Court, as indicated at last year’s postponement.
“It makes no sense to keep on adjourning the matter indefinitely until there is clarity on the KZN matter and the Constitutional Court.”
Mr Duffet on behalf of Marcos recommended that the case be struck from the roll until the State was ready to proceed.
Legal representative for Sanjay Mittah, the former director of supply chain management at the Department of Health, advocate Frans Petersen indicated that the State could not be convinced of the racketeering charges, if they were hesitant in issuing a racketeering certificate.
“This is a classic case where the prosecution does not have its ducks in a row.”
He added that the KZN case had no relevance to his client, who was being inconvenienced by having to take unpaid leave and incur unnecessary travel and accommodation expenses from Limpopo.
“There is also a psychological impact on the uncertainty of not knowing what is going on. My client is also involved in the Intaka case that is before the Northern Cape High Court that first needs to be finalised.”
Petersen said that the KZN case would only be finalised by 2015, “if at all” and requested that his clients be issued with summons when the State was ready to proceed.
The provincial director of public prosecutions, advocate Pule Tshweu, reminded the court that the accused were charged under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act and that the KZN case was intertwined with the one unfolding in the Northern Cape.
“Bundling the charges in both Provinces is not logistically possible. This high-profile case cannot be struck off the roll. Had it not been for the spoke in the wheel where the racketeering charge was challenged, the DPP would have proceeded with issuing the certificate.”
The charges against co-accused, Dr Hamid Schabbir and Saima Shahzad who are now regarded as fugitives, have been withdrawn because the prosecution have been unable to locate them as they are currently in Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates.
The charges against companies, Watertech (Pty) Limited, Mapquest Trading (Pty) Limited and Reuhemm Enterprises and co-accused Ansano Romani, have also been dropped while Ronald Geddes has turned state witness.
Magistrate Roland Birch indicated that it was not unreasonable for the defence to postpone the proceedings until the other matters had been finalised and warned the accused to appear at the next court date.
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