Outage forces trial delay

Riot Hlatshwayo

Riot Hlatshwayo

Power cuts have forced the postponement of a trial involving two high-profile provincial leaders who allegedly handed over millions of rands to a communications company before any work was done.

The trial of former Mpumalanga Economic Empowerment Corporation (MEEC) chief executive Ernest Khoza and former provincial director-general Stanley Soko was postponed to June 24, 25 and 26 in the Nelspruit regional court on Tuesday when the lights went out.

The accused are facing charges of fraud, corruption and contravening the Public Finance Management Act after a R3,6million advance, handed to Rainbow Kwanda Communications (RKC) in 2003, led to a Scorpions investigation into why the money was paid before any work was done.

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

Moses Mashamaite, the main state witness in the case, previously said RKC had asked for the money from the provincial government as start-up capital because it did not have sufficient funds.

He said he and former City Press editor Vusi Mona were co-directors of the company that had won a R16million provincial government contract.

Mashamaite testified in April last year that the payment had surprised him because no work had been done. But in an apparent contradiction he admitted that his company had asked for the money and had submitted an invoice.

Khoza and Soko both pleaded not guilty and are out on R50000 and R20000 bail, respectively.