Cape Times

Accused in Fort Hare case to stay behind bars

- OKUHLE HLATI okhule.hlati@inl.co.za

THE Dimbaza Magistrate’s Court in the Eastern Cape yesterday dismissed an applicatio­n by the defence to have the racketeeri­ng, fraud and corruption case against a new cohort of accused in the University of Fort Hare (UFH) matter, struck from the roll.

The 12 accused remain in custody until their next appearance on April 11 for formal bail applicatio­ns.

The defence teams lodged two applicatio­ns on Wednesday including that the warrants of arrests were allegedly defective, hence the court did not have jurisdicti­on.

“The Dimbaza Magistrate’s Court agreed with the prosecutio­n’s submission­s that it has jurisdicti­on to hear the case.

“The case will not be heard in East London, so we are vindicated. Our next move is to oppose their bail applicatio­n,” said Eastern Cape National Prosecutin­g Authority (NPA) spokespers­on Luxolo Tyali.

The defence also sought the recusal of Magistrate Nontuthuze­lo Sontlaba from presiding over the bail applicatio­n, citing that she was already presiding over the first group of accused and could be biased. They wanted a new magistrate that has not dealt with UFH-related matters.

According to Tyali, Sontlaba agreed to recuse herself and another magistrate who is yet to be disclosed is expected to preside over the upcoming appearance. Warrants of arrest were issued on March 27 for 15 people. They were arrested over the long weekend and made their first court appearance on Tuesday facing fraud, corruption and racketeeri­ng charges.

Two of the accused, Sarah Pearl Burger, a Cape Town based attorney and director of Horizon Forensics, and Wayne Gosain van der Haar from the UFH’s IT department were each released on R50 000 bail. Accused one, Isaac Plaatjies, the university’s former head of investigat­ions and vetting, abandoned his bail bid.

An indictment presented to the court revealed that Plaatjies was allegedly the “mastermind” who orchestrat­ed illicit contracts and kickbacks amounting to about R171 million.

Other suspects include Ansa Smith who was Plaatjies’ former assistant, Paul Tladi, Lucrecia Davids who is Tladi’s wife, Mbulelo Gingcana, Loius Mawila, Nozuko Mabombo, Gosain van der Haar, Thamsanqa Sonjica, Terrence Joubert, Bradley Conradie, Craig Retief, and Nthabiseng Makhoba.

It is believed WhatsApp messages, fake invoices, and EFTs will be part of the State’s case when the matter goes to trial.

A total of 25 people to date have been apprehende­d and further arrests have not been ruled out.

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