Jabulani Mabaso in the high court yesterday......sharika story Picture: Shan Pillay

Durban - He was entitled to make a profit and he had an agreement with the education department to do so, businessman Jabulani Mabaso told the Pietermaritzburg High Court at the start of his fraud trial on Wednesday.

Mabaso is facing 18 forgery and fraud charges, amounting to R200 million, in which he allegedly manufactured invoices, forged documents and created a ghost supplier.

He allegedly processed these transactions through his company, Indiza Infrastructure Solutions.

However, he claims the department did not require his company to disclose its purchase prices when invoices were submitted for payment.

The agreement also had not required that these suppliers’ invoices be submitted to the department for Indiza to be paid.

These submissions were made on Wednesday by advocate Willie Vermeulen SC, in amplification of Mabaso’s not guilty plea.

The offences took place between 2005 and 2007. Vermeulen said that Mabaso “bore no knowledge of the submission of incorrect suppliers’ invoices in the three instances as alleged by the State”.

“As far as Indiza’s invoices are concerned, all such invoices were correct and calculated in accordance with his understanding of the service level agreement.”

He said that during the period covered in the indictment, Indiza submitted 32 invoices to the department and only three were at issue.

Alan Robert Nixon, who was a special investigator attached to the Directorate of Special Operations (the Scorpions), said that in October 2006 an informer came to him and made allegations about the illegal awarding of a tender to Indiza.

The day before, his office had been instructed to confiscate all documents relating to Indiza. A preliminary investigation then began.

During the course of the investigations he interviewed Gillian Broughton, who had been employed by Indiza. She admitted creating invoices in the name of a fake company, African Spirit, and the legitimate company, Palm Stationers, which she had submitted to the department.

Nixon said she would be used as a State witness.

State advocate Wendy Greef said that suppliers would also be called to testify. They would say that what they invoiced Mabaso was far lower than what he submitted to the department.

The case continues.

The Mercury