Chomane dumped

Simon Nare

Simon Nare

Radio personality and Lesedi FM breakfast presenter Chomane Chomane, pictured, has been dumped as a key witness in the multi-million rand fraud trial of suspended presenter Thuso Motaung.

Chomane was regarded as a key witness in the trial and widely seen as Motaung's rival for the station's battle for listenership.

The face-off between two of Lesedi FM's giant presenters took a new twist last year when Chomane admitted to Sowetan that he was a state witness against his equally popular colleague.

The rivalry seems to stem from the fact that Chomane was the face of an immune-booster product called Pap Mix.

Sources alleged that Chomane blew the whistle on Motaung out of jealousy.

They alleged that the Morning Drive Show presenter is widely known for promoting the mealie-meal called Pap.

But as the case is crumbling, the state seems to have adopted an attitude of avoiding Motaung's colleagues as witnesses because they are further destroying the case.

Chomane spent most of last week at court waiting to take a stand and on Friday but was told to go home. Yesterday, the prosecutor could not be reached for comment on why Chomane had been dropped.

This after Lesedi FM sales manager Teboho More told the Johannesburg commercial court that the station's employees, fearing for their jobs, cooperated with the SABC's internal investigators.

One staffer was even told what to say in court, More said.

Motaung, his wife Mmamontha and a business partner, Joshua Ramme, are accused of defrauding the SABC of airtime valued at R32 million.

Chomane was to tell the court how presenters were encouraged to promote the product on air. He was also to tell the court that he was selling the product.

SABC's manager for trade and marketing Peter Valks on Friday told the court how he stumbled on a Lesedi FM logo on Power Mix packet at a shop.

The marketing of the product on Lesedi FM is what landed Motaung and his wife in court.

It is alleged that Motaung and his wife stole the station's airtime to promote Power Mix.

It has since emerged in court that suspended station manager Pula Pula Mothibi encouraged presenters to vigorously promote the product on air as it was for the benefit of the station.

The station was paid R1 for each packet of Power Mix sold. That money was being channelled towards its social responsibility programmes.

Valks told the court that he communicated with Mothibi through an email inquiring about the station's logo on Power Mix. Mothibi referred him to More whom he later met together with Ramme. At the meeting More admitted to him that he did not know what procedures to follow in authorising the use of the logo.

"My office should have been involved in negotiating for the use of the logo," he testified.

The distributor of the product Coast Macropolus also took the stand on Friday. He told the court how he met Thuso in 2003 who introduced him to Ramme. The two signed an agreement for the marketing of the product.

Ramme assured him that he had bought airtime at Lesedi FM for the promotion of the product. The trial continues today and Macropolus is expected to be cross-examined.