Ex-top cop Lamoer, co-accused plead not guilty

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Former Western Cape police commissioner Arno Lamoer arrives at the High Court for what is expected to be the start of his corruption trial. (Caryn Dolley, News24)
Former Western Cape police commissioner Arno Lamoer arrives at the High Court for what is expected to be the start of his corruption trial. (Caryn Dolley, News24)

Cape Town - Former Western Cape police commissioner Arno Lamoer and his co-accused on Monday pleaded not guilty to all 109 charges at the start of their trial.

Lamoer and three brigadiers - Darius van der Ross, Sharon Govender and her husband Colin Govender - together with businessman Salim Dawjee, face 109 charges of corruption, racketeering and money laundering involving R1.6m.

Some of the charges related to criminal activity around firearms and ammunition.

They are all out on bail.

The high-ranking officers allegedly received cash and expensive gifts from Dawjee in exchange for special treatment.

Dawjee was charged with managing and participating in the criminal enterprise between April 2011 and April 2014.

He denied the allegations in a plea explanation read out on Monday, on behalf of himself and his registered businesses, Towbars Cape CC and Towbars King CC.

'Gratifications'

According to the indictment, Towbars Cape was a vehicle fitment centre in Goodwood, which supplied and fitted towbars for police vehicles.

He said in his plea that he never offered, agreed to give, or gave a series of gratifications to the senior ranked police officers, to influence them to use their offices to advance his private or business interests.

The State alleged that some 43 payments were made to the police officers charged alongside him - around R75 000 to Lamoer, R7 000 to van der Ross, R192 000 to Colin Govender and R1.36m to his wife.

These "gratifications" were apparently not disclosed to the police minister as required.

The alleged gratifications included cheques, cash, payment for cars rented by the police members or their family, payment for Lamoer's holiday guest house and clothing store accounts, payment for petrol using Towbars Cape CC's  petrol account, golf sponsorship for Van der Ross, and paying for air tickets and swimming pool maintenance for the Govenders.

Dawjee said in his plea that all of these payments were lawful and did not contravene the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.

He painted himself as a generous man who loaned money to his co-accused and assisted others with special rates on certain services.

Before the trial started on Monday, prosecutor Billy Downer raised a concern about apparent interaction between Dawjee and two state witnesses at the weekend.

"The State regards it in a serious light and obviously there are two sides to the story."

Dawjee's defence was that the state witnesses approached him in order to get his bail revoked. He had tried his best to avoid them, he said.

Judge Rosheni Allie asked the two witnesses, police officers, who were sitting in the public gallery, to stand up.

She warned them and Dawjee of the consequences of interacting.

"From your perspective, it also impacts on your credibility."

The trial continues.

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