Trifecta gratifications a problem – state

Image courtesy of Stock.xchng

Image courtesy of Stock.xchng

Alleged payments by the Trifecta company to Northern Cape politicians generated a sense of obligation, the Northern Cape High Court heard on Wednesday.

“It is a corrupt relationship of give and take, give and take,” prosecutor Peter Serunye submitted.

Judge Mathebe Phatshoane was hearing argument in an acquittal application in the fraud and corruption trial of Northern Cape ANC heavyweights John Block, Alvin Botes, Yolanda Botha and Trifecta director Christo Scholtz.

The State accuses Trifecta of entering into a number of lease agreements with three Northern Cape government departments in which rentals, or rental space, were grossly inflated.

The accused have all pleaded not guilty to the charges against them or their companies.

Earlier, Serunye objected to insinuations by Block’s lawyer that the matter was being prosecuted only because Block, Northern Cape’s ANC chairman, could be involved.

“It is reckless and it is unfounded that the State had singled out one accused.”

Serunye said prosecutors, as members of the South African court, did their work without fear, and he found the comments about Block disturbing.

Serunye complained about the language used by the defence to describe State witnesses, labelling it ludicrous.

“I will avoid such language, even if I differ from them,” said Serunye.

Serunye argued the individual corruption and money laundering charges stood on their own.

He was replying to arguments by the defence that the fraud and money laundering charges rested on the State’s corruption charges. It was argued if the court found corruption was not proven, all the other charges fell away automatically. Serunye denied this.

Arguing about what constituted criminal gratification, Serunye told the court salaries, shares and renovations — all alleged in this matter –amounted to gratification if meant to corrupt an individual.

“It all falls in the definition of gratification, irrespective of the value of these acts. Even R1 qualifies as gratification if the intent is to corrupt.”

Referring to shares in Trifecta held by some of the accused, Serunye said these were not real black economic empowerment (BEE) shares, as alleged by the defence.

“It was to family members of Botha, there is the benefit,” he said in referring to specific charges against Botha.

“To say ‘choose our own BEE members’, it’s a way to hide the money with family.”

The case was postponed to April 24.



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