Electric shock staggers witness
There was a bit of drama in the Nelspruit regional court when a state witness giving evidence was briefly shocked as she touched the microphone on the witness stand.
Lize van der Merwe, a senior secretary in the office of the provincial director-general, was yesterday giving evidence during the appearance of former Mpumalanga Economic Empowerment Corporation (MEEC) chief executive Ernest Khoza and former provincial director-general Stanley Soko.
The woman jumped and moved backwards, catching the attention of magistrate Naomi Engelbrecht, who asked if there was something wrong with her.
"I've been shocked on my right hand," Van der Merwe said.
Engelbrecht was about to adjourn the proceedings when Van der Merwe said she was fine, and the proceedings continued.
Van der Merwe told the court the Mpumalanga government had made a payment of R3,6million to Rainbow Kwanda Communications on August 12 2003.
She said she had made the requisition and signed the order following instructions from her boss, Judy Greathead.
She admitted that this was only done on August 18 2003, six days after the payment was effected.
Van der Merwe confirmed that this was not normal and was in contravention of the Public Finance Management Act.
Another witness, Antony Arendse, a deputy director in the office of the premier, conceded that there was nothing wrong about the director-general (Soko) signing the invoice.
He said he (Arendse) could not sign the invoice and that the person with the authority to do this - David Sekgobela, who was the chief financial officer at the time - was not available. Sekgobela testified earlier this week.
Arendse also admitted that he had called the treasury and spoke to a Mr Tshitangwe, who confirmed that his office was aware of the payment.
The communications company had won a R30million communications tender to promote the province and convinced the government to pay a R3,6million advance before any work could be done.
Soko and Khoza face charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering.
The case was postponed to June 9.