Fraud accused forfeits R1mln bail

2012-03-14 00:00

FRAUD and corruption accused Jabulani Mabaso’s R1 million bail was declared forfeit to the state and he was remanded in custody yesterday. He stands accused of defrauding the provincial Education Department of about R200 million with co-accused Pam Bosman-Zulu, the former chief financial officer for the treasury and Education in KZN.

This ruling was made by Judge Gregory Kruger, who refused to accept Mabaso’s explanation for his failure to appear in court on March 5 was because he had misunderstood when the trial was due to start.

Mabaso said in an affidavit he is under “unbearable pressure” having lost his legal team who were ready to proceed with his trial on the first day it was set down and in whom he had confidence.

He’d heard that the prosecution “drags on” matters like his to “starve” accused people of competent counsel. He believed this was happening in his case, especially in light of “vehement opposition” to his application to obtain funding for his defence from his assets, which are under restraint by the AFU.

Mabaso is set to bring a fresh bail application tomorrow, and was also granted leave to appeal to a full bench of the KZN high court against Judge Kruger’s decision to cancel and forfeit his bail. Judge Kruger found in his judgment that Mabaso’s failure to appear in court on March 5 had been a “deliberate” ploy to delay the proceedings, but he later accepted submissions by Mabaso’s attorney, Rudi Krause, that another court might take a different view and for that reason granted Mabaso leave to appeal.

Krause argued that the sanction imposed on Mabaso — to forfeit his bail and remain in custody pending trial now set down for January 28 next year — was the most extreme penalty that could be imposed.

He argued that Mabaso’s conduct had not been deliberate and may “at most have been negligent” and the sanction would be devastating to Mabaso professionally and personally.

He said although Mabaso is employed and earning a salary of “about R40 000 per month”, he still has to maintain properties and pay levies in respect of assets under restraint by the Asset Forfeiture Unit.

A second application by Mabaso to have funds released by the AFU to pay for his defence is set down for hearing on June 11. Mabaso’s first application was dismissed by the high court on December 19 last year. Since then the AFU has also launched two counter-applications against Mabaso.

Krause said one of the reasons Mabaso became “confused” about his trial date was that an advocate from the AFU had said the criminal trial was due on March 12. He said Mabaso had first heard about the warrant for his arrest in his criminal trial on the afternoon of March 6.

He immediately made arrangements to hand himself over at court yesterday. The arrangement was confirmed in writing by state advocate Wendy Greef.

Krause said it was not disputed that Mabaso was in court last year when he and his co-accused, Pam Bosman-Zulu, were warned for trial on March 5 to 30 this year.

Judge Kruger ordered the two accused to appear in court again on July 30 to hear whether or not Mabaso had succeeded in his application for funds from the AFU.

If not, the judge ordered the Legal Aid Board to appoint a legal representative for Mabaso, and said if he refused legal aid at that point he would have to defend himself.

He said the KwaZulu-Natal judge president has approved the trial date of January 28 next year. The case is expected to run for four to five weeks.

 

 

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