Smuggling acquittal overturned

2013-06-13 22:28

(Shutterstock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Pretoria - The acquittal of businessman and pilot Hendrik "Highway Hennie" Delport and seven alleged cigarette smugglers was overturned by North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Thursday.

Delport and the others were acquitted in March last year after a five-year-long trial in the Pretoria Regional Court, because their prosecutors were purportedly not duly appointed.

The National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) appointed a senior advocate from the Pretoria Bar, Piet van Wyk, and advocate Theresa Kannemeyer, who works for the SA Revenue Service (Sars), as prosecutors.

Several similar fraud trials were put on ice after the magistrate's ruling in the Delport case.

The eight all pleaded not guilty to over 7 200 charges of tax fraud involving more than R264m, racketeering and contravening Customs and Excise and Value Added Tax (VAT) legislation when their trial commenced in 2004.

More than 60 000 exhibits were handed in and witnesses from Malawi, Zimbabwe and Zambia were brought in to testify.

Cigarette smuggling

Sars alleged the eight were involved in an unlawful enterprise involving the smuggling of cigarettes to obtain tax benefits or avoid paying tax.

Magistrate Adriaan Bekker acquitted them after allowing them to change their plea at the end of the State's case, to one that the prosecutors did not have the authority to prosecute in the case.

Judges Ephraim Makgoba and Pieter van der Byl set aside the magistrate's ruling on Thursday and ordered that the case be referred back to the magistrate to proceed with the criminal trial.

They said the magistrate had taken an approach which was too narrow and legalistic in considering the relevant legislation.

They were satisfied that Van Wyk and Kannemeyer were duly authorised to conduct the prosecution.

"The power to engage so-called outside prosecutors is a power, which confers a discretion on the director of public prosecutions to designate persons having suitable qualifications and experience to perform services in specific cases," they said.

"There is no indication that the legislature intended that any shortcomings relating to the conclusion of the agreement... should give rise to the invalidity or unconstitutionality of proceedings conducted by a person who was indeed engaged as prosecutor."

They said there were no grounds for it to be said that the circumstances under which the trial took place had or could have given rise to an unfair trial.

"The respondents, having been aware of all the facts relevant to their plea, were in the circumstances of this case not entitled to have raised such a plea at any time after the commencement of the trial."

Read more on:    sars  |  ndpp

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
7 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
PARTNER CONTENT
INFOGRAPHIC: New thinking required for retirement

Everything we believe about retirement is fast becoming outdated.

PARTNER CONTENT
WATCH: How education can change a life

A university education gives students the chance to create a better future for themselves, their families and to opportunity achieve their dreams.

/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.