Majali case withdrawn

2011-01-18 11:04

The fraud case against late controversial businessman Sandile Majali was formally withdrawn in the Johannesburg Commercial Crimes Court today.

“The only thing is my client never had an opportunity to prove his innocence,” Majali’s lawyer, Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza said moments after State prosecutor advocate Shaun Abrahams presented Majali’s death certificate to the court.

“This is for the record, the accused is now deceased,” Abrahams said.

The certificate states Majali’s cause of death is still under investigation.

The 48-year-old was found dead in his room at the Sandton Quatermain Hotel on December 26 last year.
Majali’s co-accused Linda Welencia was present in court.

Magistrate Ashika Ramlaal postponed her case to February 1.

She will appear together with Harry Sferopoulos and Stephen Khoza.

The court heard last year that Khoza was unfit to stand trial as he was mentally ill, suffering from schizophrenia and paranoid delusions and thus couldn’t distinguish between right and wrong.

Sferopoulos had also been sent for psychiatric observation.

Speaking outside court today, Majali’s lawyer John Ngcebetsha told journalists the case bordered on “malicious prosecution”.

“[The] mental condition of the other people [Majali’s co-accused] further vindicates this point,” he said.

Yesterday, an auction of Majali’s assets was postponed after Ngcebetsha contacted the sheriff of the court.

Ngcebetsha said the auction was stopped because there was no prior indication it was going ahead.

“We were once again alerted by the media,” he said.

An advert was placed in a daily newspaper on January 3, announcing Majali’s goods would be auctioned.

The Sowetan newspaper reported that on display at the Grand Central Airport in Midrand were luxury office furniture, including oak desks, a chest of drawers and leather chairs, along with a Samsung microwave oven, a Delonghi coffee machine, a painting, a computer and printers.

Ngcebetsha added that “everything would be done” to ensure Majali’s estate was secured for his beneficiaries.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said outside court that having the case withdrawn was not a disappointment.

“I don’t think it’s a disappointment, as it’s an act of God... it’s important that we allow it to rest.

“I believe that now we have formally withdrawn charges against him, his chapter is closed,” Mhaga said, adding that his cause of death may be heard this week.

Majali, who was said to be in financial trouble, came into the public eye following his role in the so-called Oilgate saga that saw him “donate” R11 million of state oil company PetroSA’s funds to the ANC ahead of the 2004 elections.

He was arrested in October last year by the SAPS Commercial Crimes Unit after the directorship of mining company Kalahari Resources was changed from Brian Amos Mashile and his sister Daphne Mashile-Nkosi to a group of eight individuals including Majali.

The siblings had to bring an urgent interdict before the High Court in Johannesburg to get themselves reinstated as directors of the company.

Kalahari Resources owns a 40% stake in Kalagadi Manganese, the mining company developing an R11-billion manganese mine and sinter plant in the Northern Cape, as well as a smelter at Coega.

The Industrial Development Corporation owns 10% of Kalagadi Manganese, while steel producer ArcelorMittal owns the remaining 50% stake.

Majali’s memorial service was held on December 30, in Johannesburg, and attended by senior ANC members – including national executive member Ngoako Ramatlodi, Billy Masetla and Deputy Tourism Minister Thokozile Xasa and KwaZulu-Natal legislature speaker Peggy Nkonyeni.

About 3 000 people attended his funeral at Port St Johns in the Eastern Cape on January 9.

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