Condom case provisionally withdrawn

Isaac Moledi and Sapa

Isaac Moledi and Sapa

The fraud and corruption charges against a former employee of the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) and two co-accused could soon be brought back to court if investigations are finalised, presiding prosecutor Ilse Grobler said yesterday.

This follows the provisional withdrawal of the case against the three by the Pretoria commercial crimes court yesterday.

SABS employee Simphiwe Fikizolo, 36, production manager at Latex Surgical Product, Sajeed Joseph and Jeffrey Hurwitz, a managing director at the same company, appeared briefly in court.

They face charges of fraud and corruption after allegations that Latex, one of seven private companies awarded a contract to provide free condoms in the country, bribed an SABS official to approve condoms that did not conform to the required standard.

Fikizolo was arrested on August 22 last year and his co-accused later.

Outside the courtroom Grobler said the state needed more time to finalise investigations and that charges might be brought against the three at a later stage.

"The state has not finalised (its) investigations," Grobler said. "So the state has provisionally withdrawn the charges."

At their last appearance in February it was requested that the matter be remanded for the last time.

The SABS and Health Department, which is said to be secretly pursuing a civil claims against Zalatex, an empowerment company that received the condom contract, were not available for comment.

Gilford Malatji, who sued the government, condom suppliers and SABS for R5billion last year on behalf of the victims who, he said, "suffered shock, pain and psychological injuries", said the removal of the case from the roll - pending further investigations - would give his legal firm enough time to raise funds for the class action.

He declined to comment further on the court case.