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Cape Town -A former Western Cape politician had pure intentions when he accepted R100 000 from a golf estate developer in 2002, the Western Cape High Court heard on Friday.
Andre Botha argued that his client, former environmental affairs MEC David Malatsi, accepted the money in his fundraising capacity as a New National Party (NNP) member, and did not personally benefit.
“The crux of the defence is that he denies he received it with the intention to do something wrong... In his heart, in his mind, he tried to do things correctly. He did not commit an offence.”
Malatsi, a former national deputy social development minister, was found guilty of corruption and sentenced in 2006 to five years in jail.
A court found he had been influenced by the money to give the go-ahead for Roodefontein Golf and Country Estate to be developed, despite clear environmental concerns.
The money was given to him by Count Riccardo Augusto, the owner and developer of the R550 million Plettenberg Bay project.
Malatsi was granted leave to appeal at his sentencing. The appeal came before Judges Pat Gamble and Elizabeth Baartman on Friday.
Louis van Niekerk, for the State, argued that there was much to be gained by accepting the money.
He said Malatsi was obliged to collect “donations” for the NNP to the tune of R50 000, failing which the sum would have come out of his own pocket.
“The appellant fulfilled his party commitments in obtaining the R100 000 and that was, with respect, most certainly a benefit to him, especially since the NNP's bank account was in the red at the time,” the lawyer said in his heads of argument.
“...The obtaining of the money in the 'corrupt circumstances' alleged, would as an additional benefit had advanced his political career and standing.”
Botha said the money from Augusto had been a “problem” for his client, because there was a very real perception that corruption was involved.
He said the moment Malatsi banked the cheque, he knew he should have torn it up because of the problems it would give.
Judge Gamble replied by saying: “No, it wasn't a problem. He took R50 000 and put it into his account.”
Judgment was reserved. - Sapa