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

Durban - The State has made an about-turn by conceding that businessman Jabulani Mabaso was allowed to make a profit on the stationery he supplied to the Department of Education.

Advocate Wendy Greef told Acting Judge Kobus Booyens in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Wednesday that Mabaso could be discharged on 12 charges relating to his inflating the prices of stationery.

He had to answer to the remaining six charges of submitting fraudulent supplier invoices to the department, however.

Mabaso’s legal team filed an application on Monday for his discharge on all the charges.

Initially, it was alleged that Mabaso and his company, Indiza Infrastructure Solutions, defrauded the department of R200 million between 2005 and 2007, when he supplied stationery to schools.

Greef said that, in consulting a former department employee, at the end of the State’s case, it was established that Mabaso was allowed to put a mark-up on goods he supplied.

Greef noted that two witnesses had testified that Mabaso had instructed them to forge invoices in the name of Palm Stationers, a company that had supplied goods.

Asked by the judge why she believed Mabaso had forged invoices, Greef said it was to mislead the department that the items listed had been ordered.

When Mabaso submitted the fake invoices - which he denied doing - he must have known this would prejudice somebody.

“Had the items supplied by Indiza to the department been of an inferior standard, this could have impacted on the good name of Palm Stationers,” Greef said.

Throughout the trial Mabaso has said he was not required to submit supplier invoices to the department, just his own tax invoices.

Greef said, even if the department had not requested proof of order placement, this was a requirement Mabaso had to fulfil before being paid. The two witnesses who forged the invoices had no reason to lie.

Willie Vermeulen SC, for the defence, has said Mabaso was allowed to inflate the stationery prices to make a profit.

Argument continues on Thursday.

The Mercury