Bribe was goodwill, court hears

2013-06-05 22:31

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Johannesburg - An environment official was told that the money a Stellenbosch property developer gave him was not a bribe, but a token of goodwill, a Cape Town court heard on Wednesday.

Luxolo Kula was testifying in the trial of Asrin Properties' director Shiraz Hassan in the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court.

He told the court Hassan gave him the money during a meeting at a Cape Town coffee shop last April.

"I immediately informed Hassan that I could not accept it," he said.

"[Hassan] insisted that I keep it and urged me to consider it a token of goodwill, and not as a bribe."

Hassan has pleaded not guilty to a charge of corruption.

Kula told the court Asrin Properties was busy with a development outside Stellenbosch. Asrin had taken over the project from another developer.

He said the processing of an application filed by Hassan to amend the original environmental authorisation was delayed because it went to the wrong section in the department as a result of an incorrect signature.

Kula was appointed as case officer responsible for resolving the problem.

At the coffee shop, Hassan complained about the delay and allegedly told Kula he would look after him if he expedited the matter. Kula said he ignored the remark.

However, as he was gathering his papers and files afterwards, he found a small transparent bag of money containing R500 in R100 notes.

At Hassan's insistence, he took the money, but reported the incident to his supervisor, who was shocked, and went to one of the department's directors. The director called the police and photocopied the banknotes. Kula made an affidavit about what had happened.

Asked by prosecutor Xolile Jonas what he thought when he was given the money, Kula answered: "I considered it inappropriate and said I could not accept it."

Asked what his reaction would be if Hassan denied the incident, Kula said: "When I lifted the files to leave, and saw the plastic container with money in it, I said I could not take money and he said I must not take it as a bribe, but as his gesture of goodwill."

The case continues on 4 October.

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