Blood diamonds: Ractliffe pleads not guilty

2011-06-15 13:12

Johannesburg - Former Nelson Mandela Children's Fund trustee Jeremy Ractliffe pleaded not guilty to a charge of possession of uncut diamonds in the Alexandra Magistrate's Court on Wednesday.

"I have pleaded not guilty because, in my mind, I did not believe that my possession of the stones, if they are shown to be diamonds - was in any way unlawful," said a statement read on behalf of Ractliffe by his defence lawyer Mike Hellens.

"I simply solved that which I thought was a problem for Naomi Campbell in preventing her from taking the stones out of the country by holding them for her."

The court case was delayed due to technical problems.

"Is there anything in this place that is working?" Magistrate Renier Boshoff said when the transcriber stopped working.

Eventually a lead was run from another office to the court.

On Monday Boshoff apologised to Ractliffe for the postponement caused by a power outage at the court.

"Looks like we are in the dark here," Boshoff said.

Given diamonds at fundraiser

Ractliffe was charged with contravening the Diamond Act and was out on a warning.

Campbell, a British supermodel, testified at The Hague war crimes tribunal last year that she thought it was former Liberian president Charles Taylor who had given her a bag of diamonds, which it was argued were "blood diamonds".

Campbell said she was given the uncut diamonds after a charity fundraiser in South Africa in 1997, also attended by Taylor.

She said she handed the stones to Ractliffe who was at the time chief executive of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund.

He said at the time he took and kept three small uncut diamonds so that Campbell would not get into trouble. Ractliffe handed the stones to the police on the same day that Campbell testified at the war crimes tribunal.

A person found to illegally possess uncut diamonds could face 10 years in prison or a R250 000 fine, or both.

  • Eric West - 2011-06-15 13:26

    eTV just reported that Ratcliffe was found not guilty by the court. WTF? I guess it pays to be one of Nelson's gatgabbas, eh? .

      daaivark - 2011-06-15 13:33

      Ignorant fool. This negatively affected the Mandela Children's Fund. Sure, Campbell came here as Mr Mandela's guest, but this now "cleared" man took charge of her shiny little stones, and in so doing besmirched the name of a charitable foundation founded by a remarkable man.

      DeonL - 2011-06-15 13:34

      The courts were fast in the SWC, not so fast anymore. It will probably take a few days of witnesses, a few months to come to a verdict.

      Mchana - 2011-06-15 13:42

      hehehehehehehehehe, etv

      jowza - 2011-06-15 13:52

      eric.what is a gatgabba.are you one?

  • Mchana - 2011-06-15 13:44

    i mean Ratcliffe, why did you possess that diamond stone for such a long time? did you think it was something for decoration or what? maybe we need to decorate the jail with you for few hrs, how's that?

  • SexyTshepo - 2011-06-15 13:54

    dissapointing.... this scum bag gets off free where people have died and been raped because of these diamonds..... this was a good time to set an example of these blood diamind scum pieces of rubbish..... yet another conviction goes astray.... pathetic...

  • YES - 2011-06-15 14:03

    Despite admitting possession of the items when he didn't have the necessary licence, the magistrate still have gal to apologise to the suspect?! I bet it wouldn't have happened had the accused being black. Apart from there been nothing to apologise to the accused for, tyhe matter couldn't have came to the fore had Naomi not testified at the Hague. The fact, that Naomi passed on the gems and the accused had not discloseds to anybody, is clear that he had all the intentions to take a risk and possess the diamonds. He should be found guilty and given a stiff sentence for his deceit. It was good that he was made to walk the plank by Mandela Foundation.

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