Coffee bean pair get bail

2016-03-16 12:52


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Pietermaritzburg - KwaZulu-Natal businessman George Charalambus and his employee Balasundren Kistensamy were granted bail on Tuesday pending their corruption trial.

The two men are accused of paying R400 000 to policemen in exchange for a docket relating to another case in which Charalambus is charged with the theft of 21,3 tons of coffee beans. Their intention was allegedly to destroy the docket.

Charalambus is charged in Durban in connection with the stolen coffee beans worth R596 000 which were destined for Nestle and were allegedly found in his possession.

According to an affidavit by Hawks investigator Captain J.D. Singh, Kistensamy had earlier this year approached two policemen to “make a plan to sort out the [coffee bean] case” on behalf of Charalambus.

Subsequently police set a trap for the two men with authorisation from the KZN director of public prosecutions.

Explaining her decision yesterday to grant Charalambus bail of R25 000 and Kistensamy R10 000, Magistrate Y. Khuzwayo said only the trial court would ultimately be able to decide on whether or not the state has a strong case against the two men.

She said the evidence against them was of a “technical” nature as it involved a police trap and they were entitled to the presumption of innocence.

The investigating officer had opposed bail on grounds that they could interfere with witnesses or the investigation, but the only witnesses in the case are policemen. “Is it possible that they would again interfere with these police witnesses?” she asked.

She added that the state had not alleged that Charalambus or Kistensamy would abscond and not stand their trial.

Police were already in possession of Charalambus’s passport. She also had regard to the fact that if the men remained in custody their families and employees would be the ones who would suffer most.

However, the magistrate said the charge of corruption is very serious and a high bail amount was required. Because Charalambus already had a pending case she had decided to set a higher amount of bail for him than for Kistensamy, who was his employee and had no other pending charges.

According to evidence led at the bail hearing Charalambus and Kistensamy were arrested last week after Kistensamy allegedly handed over R400 000 to two police officers at a Pietermaritzburg venue in exchange for the police docket.

Charalambus, who was not present at the handover, was arrested in Durban but police allegedly found a receipt in his possession for the withdrawal of R400 000 from his account.

The investigating officer (Singh) said Charalambus admitted he had handed the money to Kistensamy to “conclude a deal”.

Singh said at an earlier meeting, Charalambus had met personally with the police officers and discussed payment and the exchange of the docket he wanted. Charalambus assured them they would be paid in cash and said he wanted the original docket. “He even suggested that they have a braai and that he would burn the docket in their presence,” said Singh.

The case has been postponed to April 28.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  court  |  corruption

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