The Department of Health and Premier’s Office failed to respond to questions as to who exactly was benefiting from the state . . .
THE LEGAL fees of some of the accused in the long-running Intaka multimillion-rand fraud, corruption and money laundering case are apparently being funded with taxpayers’ money.
According to an agreement that was concluded in 2013, the provincial Department of Health agreed to offer state cover to fund the professional legal fees of accused employees, who were acting in their scope of employment or during the course of their duties, in the “interests of the institution”.
This is despite the fact that some of the accused have since left the employment of the Department of Health or were never employed there in the first place.
The agreement recognised that the accused could have “severe limitations” on their access to available funds in the event that their assets were attached or seized by the state in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.
A clause indicates that should the accused be found guilty of a criminal offence, they would be liable to reimburse the department “within 30 days or in reasonable instalments”.
To protect the department, the beneficiary was instructed to put up a security or guarantee for the estimated legal costs.
At the time of going to print, the Department of Health, as well as the Premier’s Office, had not responded to media enquiries as to who exactly was benefiting from the state, while the amount of the legal expenses to date have been kept under close wraps.
The defence team includes senior advocates from Gauteng as well as instructing attorneys from Mjila and Partners and Matthews and Partners.
The case has has been dragging on since 2011 and frustration has been expressed by both the prosecution and the accused regarding the unending delays.
There are three Intaka matters on the court roll in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court as well as the Northern Cape High Court.
One case involves the purchase of water purifiers and oxygen machines, for R42 million, for health facilities in the Northern Cape, while another matter refers to six water purifiers that were purchased with a price tag of R2.7 million, which were never installed in Ritchie.
The charges of fraud, forgery, uttering and money laundering relate to 16 dialysis machines that were purchased by the Department of Health from Intaka Holdings for R4 million.
The accused include Dr Gaston Savoi, his son Rodriguez Savoi and his business partner, Fernando Praderi, who are believed to be paying their own legal fees.
The Sol Plaatje Municipality apparently refused to fund the legal fees for former mayor Patrick Lenyibi and former municipal manager Frank Mashilo.
The former chief financial officer at Sol Plaatje Municipality, Nandi Madiba, has resorted to representing herself in court. She lamented in court that she faced prejudice as employment opportunities are limited because of the charges that were levelled against her.
The co-accused include former ANC provincial chairman, John Block, the former chief financial officer at the Department of Health, Daniel Gaborone, and the former director of supply chain management at the Department of Health, Sanjay Mittah.
Block served as the MEC for Finance, Economic Affairs and Tourism until 2015, when he resigned from politics and government after he was found guilty of undue influence when multimillion-rand leases were awarded to the Trifecta group of companies for government offices.
He is in the process of appealing the 15-year sentence that was handed down after he was convicted for corruption and money laundering.
Spokesperson for the Department of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, Zandisile Luphahla, emphatically denied that any funds were sourced from the department to settle any legal bills.
“The department can categorically state that no legal fees were paid for any person or individual from the department’s purse.”
In 2015 the Department of Social Development confirmed that it had picked up the legal tab for the late Yolanda Botha, who also stood trial for the Trifecta charges.
The Office Premier at the time, was at pains to clarify whether the legal fees of the co-accused – Block and former MEC for Social Development Alvin Botes – were also funded by the state.