Clerk wanted 'lunch money' bribe

2013-05-27 22:19

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Cape Town - A clerk in the office of the Master of the High Court pleaded not guilty to a charge of corruption in the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court on Monday.

Nandisiwe Lovedalia Hashe appeared before magistrate Sabrina Sonnenberg for allegedly asking for a R300 "lunch money" bribe to expedite a letter of authority.

Candidate attorney Pride Jani told the court he was sent to the Master's office in September 2011 to obtain a letter of authority in connection with an estate.

He was articled to law firm Glen Marais at the time.

At the help-desk, he told Hashe he urgently needed the document.

"She said it normally took a month for the issue of the document... I said it was urgent and that we could not wait that long," Jani testified.

"She asked how badly we needed the document, and I said as soon as possible."

He said Hashe told him to wait, and 10 minutes later said that if he "made an offer" he would get the documents the same day.

"I was intrigued, and asked her what would constitute an offer," Jani said.

"She said she had to bring lunch for four clerks involved in the issue of letters of authority, and that she would need R300."

Refusing to pay

Jani said he told his principal (the attorney who whom he was articled) about the incident, and was told not to pay, but to get the clerk’s name.

"I told her I was a candidate attorney, and that I would not pay a bribe to get things done. She refused to give me her name, but I got it later from one of her colleagues," he said.

He said his principal reported the incident to the Master of the High Court, Zureena Agulhas, who asked for a sworn affidavit.

Jani said he got the letter of authority two weeks later.

When questioned by prosecutor Ezmarelda Johnson, Jani identified Hashe as the clerk who had wanted the R300.

Cross-examined by defence lawyer Chuma Benini, Jani said he had identified Hashe from her "distinct features", and that he was not confusing her with any of the other clerks.

Benini said Hashe denied any knowledge of the matter, or of ever having dealt with Jani.

"I accept that she deals with many people in a day, but I clearly remember dealing with her," Jani said.

The case continues on Tuesday.

Read more on:    cape town  |  corruption

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