Witness is exhausted

Riot Hlatshwayo

Riot Hlatshwayo

The trial of former Mpumalanga Economic Empowerment Corporation chief executive Ernest Khoza and former provincial director-general Stanley Soko was yesterday postponed to November.

The Nelspruit regional court set it down for four days from November 12 to 15.

Moses Mashamaite, the main witness for the state, asked the court to postpone the matter because he was "exhausted" and was unable to concentrate when being cross-examined. The case had been in court since Tuesday.

The court heard how Rainbow Kwanda Communications, a media company appointed to market the province, had "swindled" the Mpumalanga government out of R3,6million.

Mashamaite said this during cross-examination by advocate Gys Rautenbach, representing the accused.

Rainbow Kwanda Communications had requested the money from the provincial government as start-up capital because it did not have sufficient funds.

Mashamaite told the court that he and former City Press editor, Vusi Mona, were co-directors of the company that had obtained a R16million tender from the provincial government.

The R3,6million advance the communications company had received in 2003 led to the Scorpions investigating why the money was paid before any work had been done.

Mashamaite testified in April that he was surprised about the payment by the government because no work had been done.

In an apparent contradiction, Mashamaite admitted on Wednesday his company had actually requested the money from the government.

He also admitted the company had submitted an invoice to the government.

The accused, who were smartly dressed throughout the trial this week, are facing charges of fraud, corruption and contravening the Finance Management Regulatory Act.

Khoza and Soko both pleaded not guilty to the charges and are out on R50000 and R20000 bail respectively.

They say the charges against them are politically motivated.

A large contingent of supporters was in court all week.