Shawn Thompson trial to go ahead

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Copy of NM Shauwn 1 (40300110) THE MERCURY Former uShaka Marine World CEO Shawn Thompson, right, and his lawyer walk out of Commercial Crime Court. Picture: Zanele Zulu

Durban - Former uShaka Marine World chief executive Shawn Thompson is to stand trial, despite media reports earlier this year that charges against him could be dropped.

He appeared in the Durban Specialised Commercial Crime Court on Wednesday, when trial dates were set down for later this year.

The State is expected to call at least three witnesses and the defence two.

Thompson faces several charges of corruption, fraud and contravening the Municipal Finance Management Act for allegedly abusing his position as chief executive of the water park and aquarium.

At his last appearance, and shortly after he resigned from his position last month, the State asked for time to consider a letter from the complainant (uShaka) that was handed over by Thompson’s legal team.

The letter apparently said uShaka no longer wished to pursue charges against Thompson.

But, on Wednesday, public prosecutor Ranjeni Govender said after consulting with the author of the letter and the director of uShaka’s board, Jacob Henry de Villiers Botha, the State had rejected the representations made.

Thompson has pleaded not guilty and maintains the incidents in question were dealt with internally.

Speaking outside court, he said on Wednesday he was “disappointed and somewhat surprised” that the charges had not been withdrawn.

In 2009, Thompson allegedly submitted invoices for and authorised payments of R13 172 from uShaka Marine World to Villa Coco Guest House – a Durban North establishment owned by Thompson and/or his wife, Jackie – for the accommodation of three uShaka guests.

He was arrested in August and released on R5 000 bail.

Originally, he was charged with just two counts of corruption, but in November the State added to his charge sheet 21 counts of fraud and contravening the Municipal Finance Management Act.

The Mercury

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