twist at HEARING
There was deadly silence in court for a minute or two when the state prosecutor held his chin in apparent shock that his own witness had just given evidence supporting the defence.
This was during the high-profile corruption case against former Mpumalanga Economic Empowerment Corporation CEO Ernest Khoza and former director-general Stanley Soko in the Nelspruit regional court yesterday.
State witness Kebone Masitle was called to the witness stand to give evidence against the accused.
However, she told the court that there was nothing illegal in the money that was paid to her company on behalf of Khoza.
She said Khoza had been entitled to the money because he had provided his services regarding marketing, lobbying and analysing socio-economic environmental scanning for the Mpumalanga government.
"The payments were made voluntarily. If he (Mashamaite) had a problem he would have stopped making the payments," Masitle told the court.
To this, prosecutor Rigel du Toit suddenly held his chin in an apparent sign of shock and for a while kept quiet before asking the presiding magistrate for a postponement.
One of the defence attorneys, Giyani-based Gezani Maluleke, said the dramatic about-turn was yet another blow for the state.
"It is gradually becoming obvious that what we have been saying that this was a trial that had political influence is true," Maluleke said.
"It has always been contradiction after contradiction and we have no alternative but to apply for the discharge of the accused in terms of Act 51 of 1977, Section 174."
"The Act says if it is proved after the closure of the prosecutions that there is no case beyond a reasonable doubt against the accused, then the defence can apply for a discharge."
The matter was postponed to March 30 and 31.
In December last year another state witness, Meshack Sipho Malaza, dealt the state a blow by contradicting himself during cross-examination.
Khoza and Soko have pleaded not guilty to a number of charges relating to corruption involving a tender to Rainbow Kwanda Communications in 2003.