Kimberley - One of South Africa’s biggest illicit diamond dealing cases will be scrapped from the court roll if the State does not get its house in order and submit the necessary authorisation documents from the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) for certain charges to be added before the next appearance of the accused.
The long list of accused, who have been linked to an illicit diamond dealing syndicate, include several prominent names in the local diamond industry.
Their arrests followed raids on homes and businesses by the Hawks in August last year.
Those who appeared in court on Wednesday are: Ashley Brooks, Carl van Graaff, Sarel van Graaff, Frank Perridge, Willem Weenink, Patricia Lenyebi, Colin Carey, Muhammed Ahmed, Patrick Mason, Kevin Urry, Trevor Pikwane, McDonald Visser, Antonella Florio-Poone, Edward Poone, Leandro Morolong, Hester Ingala, Antonio Ingala, Bassel Nasser, Ahmed Mamoud, Aquila Fisher, Monoj Detroya and Komilan Packirisamy.
Ismial Collier was also in the dock on Wednesday on charges of contravening the Diamonds Act.
Shortly after court proceedings started, charges against Hester Ingala, who already paid bail of R125 000, were withdrawn by the State Prosecutor, Johan Roothman.
Magistrate Andre Williams also approved an application by the State that the cases of Lenyebi, Carey and Edward Poone be separated from the “main” case.
Their cases will now be heard in the regional court.
Charges include illegal diamond dealing, possession and sale of unpolished diamonds and money laundering.
The State is waiting for authorisation from the DPP to add racketeering charges to the charge sheet for the accused in the “main” case, as well as authorisation for a synchronisation order (which will enable the State to trial the matter as one case).
It is these authorisation approvals that Magistrate Williams warned needed to be ready by the next court date on May 15, or the case would be scrapped from the roll.
It is anticipated that the main case will then be transferred to the Northern Cape High Court for trial.
Roothman said the accused’s legal representatives had agreed to trial dates in October and November this year.
He added that the State’s investigation was complete.
One of the litany of legal representatives, Advocate Annalene van den Heever, however, requested that Williams launch a formal inquiry into the reason for yet another postponement to May 15, and added that setting a trial date in the Northern Cape High Court was “putting the cart before the horse”.
Van den Heever represents, among others, Nasser, whose bail of R750 000 was the highest set when the accused first appeared in court in August last year. She also previously acted as the legal representative of Czech fugitive, Radovan Krejcir.
“The State saw the case as investigated before arrests were made. If the State was convinced of centralisation and racketeering possibilities, these certificates should have been obtained before arrests were made,” she said.
“The accused are being prejudiced as their businesses are stifled and their reputations tarnished, while the case is unnecessarily delayed,” she added.
Roothman responded by saying that a centralisation application was deliberately not ordered before the arrests were made in order to prevent a possible leak of information about the case, but added that the order had “in principle” been granted by the DPP.
Williams ruled that while the charges and investigation were of an extremely “intricate nature” and delays were a consequence of arrest, he would scrap the case from the court role if all authorisations of applications were not handed in to the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court by May 15.
Another four accused, Xeuwei Yang, Spiro Louverdis, Brent Lunt and Andrew Pedisane, who were also arrested during the raids and face similar charges, appeared in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court yesterday but their cases will be heard separately from the main group of suspects.
They have also been remanded to return to court on May 15.
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