Mabaso sick note raises suspicion

2011-05-04 00:00

THE credibility of a medical certificate handed to acting high court Judge Yvonne Gcaba yesterday to explain the failure of KZN businessman Jabulani Mabaso to appear for his corruption and fraud trial was questioned in court yesterday

Mabaso was alleged to have been in hospital. His Johannesburg-based legal team have withdrawn from the trial, saying they have not been paid.

Pietermaritzburg advocate Elsje Bezuidenhout said she was told Mabaso’s lawyers were not paid because the Asset Forfeiture Unit had decided “at the eleventh hour” not to release funds for his defence as they’d agreed earlier.

State advocate Rema Mahabeer said the AFU’s head, Knox Molelle, denied there was such an agreement. She said that when the AFU placed Mabaso’s assets under restraint two years ago they agreed to release his interest in a golf estate worth some R31 million and later a bed-and-breakfast business so that he could support himself and his family and pay his legal fees.

On April 26 Mabaso’s lawyer phoned the AFU asking for more funds to be released, and was told they would have to bring a formal application before court.

Mahabeer said no problems regarding funding were ever raised by Mabaso’s legal team at numerous pre-trial conferences, the last of which took place on April 9.

Concerning a letter faxed to the court yesterday bearing the stamp and signature of Medi-Clinic specialist surgeon Dr T.P. Pavlov, Mahabeer said the letter was “wholly unsatisfactory” as it did not disclose what illness Mabaso was suffering from, even though Mabaso’s new advocate, Willem Edeling of Bloemfontein, said he had consulted Mabaso in hospital late on Monday and that he was “on drips” after being admitted for a stomach ailment.

The attorney representing Mabaso’s co-accused, Pamela Bosman-Zulu, described the medical certificate as “questionable, to say the least” as it merely says that Mabaso was admitted to hospital on May 1 and will be discharged on May 4.

Sangham complained that Bosman-Zulu, who is a “highly respected chartered accountant” in the Eastern Cape, is being prejudiced professionally and mentally by the continual postponements and by the failure of the state to make a decision about 172 pages of written representations submitted on her behalf.

Sangham said Mabaso’s former company, Indiza Infrastructure Solutions (Pty) Ltd, cited as a co-accused, has been placed under liquidation and said the state must decide whether to cite the trustees to appear in court on behalf of the company.

Mahabeer said the state will give urgent attention to his client’s representations and consult the Director of Public Prosecutions about the status of Indiza.

Gcaba postponed the hearing to May 27.

The court authorised a warrant for Mabaso’s arrest, but ordered that the execution of the warrant be stayed until then.

Mabaso and Zulu are charged with corruption, forgery, fraud and money laundering arising from the award of a tender to Indiza Infrastructure Solutions (Pty) Ltd, to act as an agent to supply books and stationery to schools in the province.

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