Scholtz' alleged corruption hearing postponed

08 Apr 2015 16:10pm
KEETMANSHOOP, 08 APR (NAMPA) – The corruption hearing of //Karas Regional Council chairperson Jan Scholtz and council employee Bernatus Waterboer was postponed for a fourth time in the Keetmanshoop Regional Court on Wednesday.
The case, emanating from corruption charges allegedly committed late in 2011, will next be heard for plea and trial on 09 and 10 July this year.
The two Government officials stand accused of allegedly corruptly awarding tenders worth N.dollars 540 000 to a company owned by a close friend in 2011. The company, Gerose Construction CC, received paving tenders for the offices of the //Karas Regional Governor in Keetmanshoop and the !Nami#nûs Constituency Office at Lüderitz. Scholtz is councillor of this constituency.
Scholtz is also accused of corruptly tabling and motivating a financial assistance request worth almost N.dollars 10 000 for Tommy’s Meat Products owned by his stepson, Clayton Bruce. He allegedly failed to disclose the nature of his relationship with the butchery owner during a council meeting.
The charges were investigated by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and subsequently brought to court after recommendation by the Prosecutor-General, Martha Imalwa.
On Wednesday, private defence lawyer for the accused, Garth Joseph, rejected a request by the State for a further postponement and asked for a dismissal of the case. He argued that the postponement unduly prejudiced the political position of Scholtz who hoped to be re-elected as council chairperson later this year, and was financially draining on Waterboer whom he said had limited legal insurance.
The State’s request was on the grounds that both the ACC case investigator and witnesses failed to show up in court during the latest appearance. It emerged that the failure occurred as a result of subpoenas never having reached the intended parties.
Chief prosecutor Pieter Smit informed the court that from his investigations, it was unclear where in the administrative chain the documents may have been lost.
Regional magistrate Sunsley Zisengwe rapped the State over the knuckles for its “sluggishness” on the handling of the subpoenas, but wholly rejected the defence’s request for dismissal.
Zisengwe said he was taken aback by the “audacious” request for a discharge considering the defence had previously asked for postponement on two scheduled appearances.
He ruled that Scholtz’ position was not in threat as he was presumed innocent until the conclusion of the court case.
Zisengwe adivised Waterboer on the option of State-funded legal aid.