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Darling accused back in court

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The accused in the “Project Darling” diamond trial, who were allowed to walk free in 2018, returned to the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.

Some of the accused sitting in he gallery before court proceeding yesterday (Thurs). Picture: Soraya Crowie

THE ACCUSED in the “Project Darling” diamond trial, who were allowed to walk free in 2018, returned to the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.

The accused – Monojkumar Detroya, Komilan Packirisamy, Ahmed Khorani, Willem Weenink, Joseph Sarel van Graaf, Carl Steve van Graaf, Kevin Urry, Trevor Pikwane, Frank Perridge, Brendt Lundt, Spiro Louverdis and Colin Carey – will have to stand trial for dealing in unpolished diamonds and corruption.

The state also alleges that the agent, who was tasked with selling the illegal diamonds, was offered gifts, including a Volkswagen Golf GTI valued at R100 000, a BMW worth R235 000 and two diamond rings, in order to persuade him to facilitate illegal dealings.

The matter was placed back on the court roll yesterday, after the Directorate of Public Prosecutions in the Northern Cape approached the Supreme Court of Appeal and the Constitutional Court last year to overturn a permanent stay of prosecution that was granted in 2018.

Riaan Bode, who is appearing on behalf of Detroya, Packirisamy, Khorani, Weenink, Urry, Pikwane, Lunt, Louverdis and Carey, stated that his clients had appeared on a voluntary basis.

He indicated that Lunt had to appear in court in Zimbabwe on February 15 and was therefore unable to make an appearance in Kimberley yesterday.

“If the matter (in Zimbabwe) is finalised by then, he will be available for the next court appearance. If needs be the matter can be referred to a higher court with or without him.”

Bode believed that it was not necessary to issue a warrant of arrest for Lunt.

Lunt and a Zimbabwean national, Nyasha Matendawafa, were arrested in Harare and appeared in a Zimbabwean court in 2019 after he was allegedly found in possession of rhino horn worth an estimated black market value of around $240 000.

The deputy director of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), advocate Johan Roothman, did not believe it was necessary to attach any bail or bail conditions.

“The accused have always appeared in court.”

He indicated that the indictment was ready and that the state was ready to proceed.

Magistrate Lance Roach postponed the matter until March 5 to allow Lunt to return to South Africa and for the accused to arrange for legal representation in the Northern Cape High Court.

He warned that warrants of arrests would be issued if the accused failed to appear at their next court appearance.

The state agreed not to prosecute three of the accused – Patrick Mason, Antonella Florio-Poone and McDonald Visser – after entering into a plea agreement with co-accused Ashley Brooks.

Brooks was issued with a R10 million fine and a suspended sentence in December 2020.

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