Conradie to Get More Details On Charge

ORAL arguments on the special plea through which lawyer Dirk Conradie is trying to have criminal charges against himself thrown out of court are due to be heard in the Windhoek High Court in August.

After delivering a ruling in which he directed the prosecution to provide Conradie with more information on one of the charges he is facing, Acting Judge Thomas Masuku yesterday postponed Conradie’s case to 13 and 14 August for the hearing of arguments on his special plea.

The last-minute raising of the special plea has prevented the trial of Conradie (56) and an associate, Sara Damases (50), from starting as planned on 16 April. The trial had been scheduled to run to the end of this week, but has remained stalled at the starting line as a result of the special plea and then a request from Conradie to be provided with further particulars on one of the state’s charges.

In his ruling yesterday, Acting Judge Masuku ordered the state to supply additional information on a charge in terms of the Companies Act to Conradie within five days.

In that charge, Conradie is accused of having failed to disclose to the board of directors of cellphone company MTC – he was the chairperson of the board at the time – that he had an interest in an aertising contract that the board discussed at a meeting in Lisbon, Portugal, on 19 June 2012.

In the special plea that he has raised, Conradie is claiming that the High Court of Namibia cannot try him on the charge under the Companies Act, because it involves an offence allegedly committed in Portugal and the High Court’s jurisdiction does not extend beyond the borders of Namibia.

In response to that challenge, state aocate Ed Marondedze amended the charge last week to include an allegation that Conradie failed to disclose his interest in the contract to the MTC board while he was in Windhoek, before he travelled to Portugal for the board meeting.

Except for the charge under the Companies Act, which Conradie is facing alone, he and Damases are jointly indicted on three charges under the Anti-Corruption Act. These are counts of corruptly soliciting gratification as a reward for using influence in procuring a contract, corruptly using an office or position to obtain gratification, and attempting or conspiring to contravene sections of the Anti-Corruption Act.

In his special plea Conradie is claiming those three charges are invalid because they are based on evidence that was secured “illegally and improperly and also in violation of constitutional rights”.

The prosecution is alleging that Conradie solicited or demanded gratification from the directors of an aertising company, 8 Saatchi amp Saatchi, during a meeting at the offices of his law firm, Conradie amp Damaseb, in Windhoek on 12 June 2012. He allegedly did so by asking the aertising company’s directors to agree to take Damases on board in their business as a black economic empowerment partner or in any other role, while promising that in return he would use his influence with the MTC board to ensure an aertising contract worth about N$60 million would be awarded to 8.

Conradie is claiming in the special plea that evidence in support of the charges under the Anti-Corruption Act was obtained “surreptitiously, improperly and unlawfully”, through recordings that were made of a confidential meeting between him, Damases and the directors of 8 and of a telephone conversation between Damases and one of the company directors.

He and Damases did not consent to the making of such recordings and the directors of the aertising company did not have the authority to make the recordings, Conradie says in the special plea.

He is claiming that if the special plea is upheld, it would dispose of the entire trial he and Damases are facing.

Marondedze is arguing in written arguments filed with the court that the issues raised about the legality of the prosecution’s evidence cannot be considered in the absence of evidence and merely on the allegations in the indictment and the special plea, but should be dealt with during the trial.

The special plea “is a classic example of preliminary litigation aimed at stalling the trial”, he is charging in his arguments.

Source : The Namibian