SPEAKER TO HAVE HER DAY IN COURT
EMBATTLED KwaZulu-Natal speaker Neliswa "Peggy" Nkonyeni will stand trial on corruption charges from August 13 to 18.
The Pietermaritzburg regional court set the trial down for six days and Nkonyeni will appear with her two co-accused, businessman Lindelihle Mkhwanazi, 38, and health department supply chain manager Mduduzi Ntshangase, 44.
Magistrate Chris van Vuuren set the date as the state appeared not to be quite prepared to go on trial. Prosecutor Hein van der Merwe told the court that they needed an extra three weeks to complete their investigations. He said this might result in more charges being added to the case.
The state finally received an affidavit from Cape-based businessman Brazilian Gaston Savoi. Savoi, the director of Intaka, sold the controversial ultrasound machine to Mkhwanazi's company, Rowmoor Investments.
It is alleged that Rowmoor Investments then sold the machine to the department of health for an inflated price of R1,5milllion in 2007.
It is believed that Savoi's affidavit fingers former health department chiefs Ronald Greene-Thompson and Busi Nyembezi, and ex-head of the provincial treasury Sipho Shabalala, who is now Ithala Bank's chief executive.
Greene-Thompson is currently employed by the national health department. The details of Savoi's affidavit were not discussed in court.
Nkonyeni's legal representative Kessie Naidu SC, agreed to the trial date but said they expected no more delays in the case.
It is alleged that Nkonyeni influenced the process of purchasing the machine on an inflated price and received R20000 and accommodation at Savoi's Steenberg hotel in Constantia, Cape Town.