Lawyer blasts ‘ludicrous’ Trifecta chargesComment on this story
Kimberley - Some charges against the Trifecta group and other accused are ludicrous, the Northern Cape High Court heard on Tuesday.
“The only sin... (was that) they accepted the recommendation for a lease (which) the bid and evaluation committees agreed to,” said Jaap Cilliers, for Trifecta director Christo Scholtz.
Judge Mathebe Phatshoane was hearing evidence in a fraud and corruption case against Northern Cape ANC heavyweights John Block, Alvin Botes, Yolanda Botha and Scholtz.
Cilliers was cross-examining State witness PWC forensic auditor Trevor White.
The issue under cross examination was charges of misrepresentation against Trifecta and Botha.
Cilliers stated Trifecta and Botha accepted an recommendation of two government committees to sign an agreement between the two entities for office space to lease.
“I have seen charge sheets in my life and charges sheets.
“This one takes the cake,” he submitted.
Cilliers asked White's concern with the specific lease, which seemed only to be the period of the lease.
“The State did not put that in the charge sheet. Count 10 is ludicrous.
“You will agree,” argued Cilliers.
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.
The accused have all pleaded not guilty to all the charges against them or their companies.
The defence doubted White's report on his allegations on officials taking occupation of the old Oranje Hotel building in Upington some time after the lease was signed.
Cilliers said the delay was caused solely by the state agency, the SA Social Security Agency, (Sassa), who wanted to customise their offices.
“They said they want the building to be customised. All floors had to be redone. They caused the delay of the occupation.”
Earlier, the court heard that some calculations in the forensic report could be based on the wrong set of facts.
“In your testimony of R24 million potential prejudice... in this lease you have defamed the accused, wrongly,” submitted Cilliers.
The evidence was about the potential prejudice for the state in the office space leased in the old Oranje Hotel building from Trifecta.
The building was leased by the department on behalf of Sassa.
The lease was ceded to Sassa a day after the department signed the agreement with Trifecta.
It was submitted Sassa again entered into its own agreement with Trifecta later, meaning there were actually three legal agreements with Trifecta for the same office space in the Oranje Hotel building.
The trial continues.