Former police commissioner admits to 'legit' payments from businessman best friend

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 on Monday said there was nothing illegal about the payments he received from businessman Salim Dawjee.

He revealed they had been friends for over two decades in a plea explanation read out at the start of their corruption trial in the Western Cape High Court.

"I may venture to suggest that he is in fact my best friend and that our relationship had gone and grown through the hardships and successes we have both encountered in our respective personal, business and family lives."

Lamoer and three brigadiers - Darius van der Ross, Sharon Govender and her husband Colin Govender - together with businessman 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 pleaded not guilty to all the charges on Monday.

'Show off' payment

Lamoer said he had no hesitation in admitting that he received payments in cash and otherwise from Dawjee, as alleged by the State.

He proceeded to explain the circumstances behind the payments and accused the State of targeting him.

Regarding money that Dawjee deposited in his account, Lamoer said it was intended as a wedding gift for his daughter because he did not have her banking details.

In his opinion, he felt the payment was a bit of a "show off" by Dawjee.

Dawjee also loaned him money with no fixed terms or conditions.

He said there was a gentleman's agreement of sorts that such advances by him would be payable on demand should the need arise, which it never did.

Alternatively, it was repayable when Lamoer retired.

He argued this arrangement was no different to those made by other families or friends.

'Ulterior motive'

Regarding a George holiday, he said it was a weekend arranged for his daughters and paid for by Dawjee, who he later reimbursed.

The same went for cabs that were hired by Dawjee for his daughter, since he was well connected to the cab hiring company and it was convenient.

As for Dawjee paying his clothing accounts for him, Lamoer said the two visited N1 City one day and Dawjee needed cash.

Lamoer gave him the cash he had intended using to pay his clothing accounts, and Dawjee paid the accounts with his credit card in return.

"Suffice it further to state that I respectfully suggest that my prosecution contains an element of ulterior motive and that I am concerned that I am proverbially being 'witch hunted'," he concluded.

His co-accused, barring Colin Govender, also denied the allegations by the State that they were part of a criminal enterprise that paid or were paid in return for offering Dawjee special treatment.

Van der Ross said that his interaction with Dawjee was no different to those he had with other business people in the community. He said he declared the sponsorship for the police golf club in 2011/12.

Sharon Govender maintained she was not guilty of any criminal behaviour regarding gratifications or abusing her office.

Prosecutor Billy Downer thanked the accused for admitting to a "large proportion of the payments".

He believed it would dramatically shorten the trial.

The trial continues.

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