Ractliffe diamond case postponed

2010-10-27 11:39

The case against Jeremy Ractliffe, a former trustee of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, who is facing charges related to the possession of uncut diamonds, was postponed in Johannesburg today.

Represented by Mandela’s former lawyer George Bizos, Ractliffe is charged with contravening the Diamonds Act and is out on a warning.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said the state didn’t push for bail as it did not consider Ractliffe a flight risk.

The matter in the Alexandra Magistrates Court, previously known as the Wynberg Magistrates Court, was postponed to March 2 next year when the trial would start.

Ractliffe resigned from the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund in August after it was revealed he received three uncut diamonds from supermodel Naomi Campbell in 1997, when he was chief executive of the fund.

Ractliffe apologised to the board for the “possible reputational risk” his conduct may have caused. He also said he realised he had left himself open to possible prosecution.

A person found in possession of uncut diamonds, which is illegal in South Africa without a licence, faces 10 years imprisonment or a R250?000 fine, or both.

Ractliffe admitted for the first time earlier this year that he took and kept the three small diamonds given to Campbell.

She claimed she had done this so she wouldn’t get into trouble. This evidence emerged before The Hague war crimes tribunal on Sierra Leone. Former Liberian president Charles Taylor was being tried in The Hague for trading in illegal diamonds, so-called “blood diamonds”, to arm rebels in Sierra Leone.

Campbell was given the diamonds while visiting South Africa at the same time as Taylor. She assumed the diamonds were a gift from him after meeting him at a charity fundraiser.?

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