Police slush fund paid for Christmas tree - witness

2015-07-11 17:38

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Pretoria - A secret police slush fund intended for undercover operations was used to pay donations for a church Christmas tree, the Pretoria Regional Court heard on Friday.

Centurion car dealer Jan Venter testified that the secret slush fund was used not only for car transactions, but also to pay for donations to the Dream Centre of an Edenvale church of which Crime Intelligence's former financial head Lieutenant General Solly Lazarus was a member.

Venter is the first State witness in the trial of Lazarus and former Crime Intelligence procurement head Colonel Hein Barnard, who pleaded not guilty to charges of theft, fraud and corruption.

The State alleges the two senior policemen used a special account intended for undercover operations to buy vehicles for themselves, family members and friends.

The vehicles included a Nissan Murano 4x4, a Nissan Navara, a motorcycle, two Honda quad bikes and a Kia Picanto.

Venter last week testified that the fund was created at Barnard's insistence in about 2006 or 2007.

The profits from vehicles sold to the police was diverted into the secret account and Venter said he initially thought it would be used for undercover operations, but later realised Lazarus and Barnard used it as their personal cheque account.

Facing a second day of cross-examination by the accused's senior advocate Estelle Kilian, Venter conceded that payments had been made out of the secret account to the church, a boerewors shop and a meat processing concern.

The account was also used to pay for liquor, meat and presents.

Venter admitted that he had authorised a cheque to pay the meat processing concern to either for meat or the processing of game after a hunting trip which he and Barnard attended with their wives.

He said Barnard did not hunt with them because he was afraid he might miss a shot.

Kilian put it to him that her Lazarus and Barnard had not been aware of the fund and and that they had never given any instructions to Venter concerning the fund.

She put it to Venter that he had stolen money from the secret account, but he denied it.

She further put it to Venter that Lazarus had approached Venter's business, Atlantis Motors, and other organisations for donations to his church, but was not aware the money came from the secret account.

Venter insisted that Barnard had asked him to pay over the money to the church.

Venter earlier conceded that he had used the account to pay his lawyer's fees, but on Friday also admitted that he had used the account to pay for a speeding ticket.

He conceded that he had no documentary proof to back up his claim that R60 000 from the account had been used to pay for Barnard's Nissan Navara.

Kilian put it to him that Barnard had paid R60 000 in cash for the car "for which he had worked terribly hard and can prove where every cent came from".

The trial was postponed to October 15.

Read more on:    police  |  solly lazarus

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