Fraud accused tells of freak accident
Cape Town - A freak accident in which a tree collapsed onto a former school master's car caused him to sell his business, the Specialised Commercial Crime Court in Bellville heard on Wednesday.
Phillipus Calitz testified for his own defence after the court refused an application for his acquittal on a fraud charge.
Calitz was the sole shareholder in the company Yukka Paper (Pty) Ltd, which supplied special paper to the citrus fruit packaging industry.
He is alleged to have sold the company to Plettenberg Bay businessman Pieter Marais, with the use of a false price list that induced Marais to buy Yukka.
Prosecutor Derek Vogel alleges that Marais would not have bought the company, had he known that fruit packaging companies were in fact paying prices less than indicated on the price list.
Calitz told the court he had been a school mathematics teacher before buying Yukka.
Yukka purchased paper in bulk from Nampak, and then sold the paper, cut into suitable pieces, to companies in the citrus packaging industry.
He said the business was a huge success, and his role was not only to be active on the premises, but to make regular trips to the various packaging companies, for personal contact.
He said he was no longer able to do that after a tree collapsed onto his car on a farm, causing him severe injuries, and forcing him to sell the business.
He said he had personally compiled the hand-written price list, for discussion with each packing company individually, but had only managed to go to one of four major companies before the tree fell onto his car.
When he bought Yukka, the then owner had warned him to visit the packaging companies individually, rather than to discuss anything with them by telephone.
Calitz said he had several discussions with Marais prior to Marais's purchase of the company, but Marais had never asked about prices, and was more interested in the company's financial performance.
Calitz said he gave Marais the price list at the final meeting, and explained that the purpose of the list was to give quotations.
Marais had not mentioned that he would use the list to calculate profit.
Calitz denied ever intending to defraud Marais, or to misrepresent the prices to him.
The case continues on Thursday.