WELL-KNOWN local businessman, Esias “Sakkie” Gerber, the former owner of MotoNet, was yesterday found guilty of contempt of court and sentenced in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court.
Gerber was arrested in the court last week on numerous other charges, believed to be related to vehicle theft fraud and money laundering, and had been in custody since.
He had on the same clothes yesterday that he wore to court on Thursday when he was arrested.
Gerber was arrested while appearing for an inquiry into why he had failed to appear in court on June 1, the last scheduled appearance in his ongoing court case, where he, together with another local businessman, Floyd Teu, is facing charges of fraud, money laundering and obstruction of justice involving R1.2 million.
Gerber, who was out on a warning at the time, was scheduled to appear in court on June 1 for the ongoing case but failed to do so, instead submitting a sick certificate.
The court yesterday heard evidence from the doctor working at the ZK Matthews Hospital in Barkly West, who issued the sick certificate, after he was called as a witness by magistrate Danie Schreuder.
The doctor testified that he had issued a “fictitious” medical certificate, after having received a phone call on May 31 from a friend, Ryan Cader, who asked him to to write a sick note for a friend (Gerber) who was not feeling well and was unable to attend work.
“I told him to bring his friend to the hospital the next morning to be examined. The next day he arrived on his own, without the sick person, and on his request I wrote him a sick certificate for Gerber,” the doctor testified.
The doctor stated further that when he was contacted by the police later that day regarding the sick note, he phoned Gerber and met him outside the offices of his lawyer in Barkly West.
“This was the first time I saw him (Gerber). I was upset, disappointed and stressed. I knew what I had done was wrong, issuing a sick note without a medical examination or even seeing him, but I had trust in the person who called me,” the doctor stated.
“I told him (Gerber) to go back to the hospital, where he was examined by another doctor.”
According to Gerber’s version of events, he was not feeling well and went to see the doctor at the ZK Matthews Hospital late on the afternoon of May 31. Gerber testified that as it was after hours, the doctor could not open a file for him and told him to come back the next day. He said Cader offered to pick up the sick certificate for him from the doctor and drop it off at court because he could see he was ill.
Schreuder, during his ruling, said that he found “no reason” not to accept the evidence of the doctor.
“The doctor had good reason to lie, as what he did, namely issuing a fraudulent sick certificate, can be considered conduct that indicates negligence. However, he spoke the truth and admitted that he acted wrongly, even while he could be seen as a fraud,” Schreuder said.
In contrast, he added that he was “not at all” impressed by Gerber and that he made a “very weak” impression as a witness.
“His version about a visit to the (ZK Matthews) hospital on May 31 was a lie. There is, without a doubt, no truth to this version. According to his evidence he was so sick that he could not even make a short appearance in court but chose to drive to Barkly West and back. Would it not have been more reasonable to go to Kimberley Hospital? His evidence does not make complete sense. Besides the doctor confirming that he had a cough when he was seen in Barkly West, the court cannot believe a word he says,” Schreuder said.
He then found Gerber guilty of contempt of court and proceeded to sentence him to a R500 fine or 30 days imprisonment.
Schreuder added that if he had failed to appear during a trial appearance where witnesses were involved, and not just an appearance for an postponement, he would have imposed direct imprisonment on Gerber.
Gerber remains in custody until today, when the State is expected to decide if it will oppose bail in the matter stemming from the new charges brought against him, while he is scheduled to appear alongside Teu in the initial matter next month.