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Conradie corruption trial resumes

2022-05-13  Roland Routh

Conradie corruption trial resumes

The long-running trial of prominent Windhoek lawyer Dirk Conradie and his long-time friend Sara Ngenohani Damases resumed yesterday in the Windhoek High Court before Judge Thomas Masuku.

The trial has seen several postponements due to applications by Conradie to have some of the charges squashed and to have recordings made by Mark Bongers and Kim Fields – the owners of advertising company DV8 Saatchi and Saatchi - during a meeting they had with Conradie and Damases, declared inadmissible as evidence.

Conradie only succeeded in having one of his charges-that he had to declare his interest when the tender was discussed in Portugal - removed from the charge-sheet.

Testimony has been heard this week from the former acting CEO of MTC, Marthinus Smit, who testified about the board meeting where the decision on the awarding of the multi-million-dollar tender for advertising services was to be discussed. It was this tender that landed Conradie and Damases in trouble, as it is alleged that they offered it as an inducement for taking on Damases as BEE partner. Testimony was also heard from Nelius Becker, who at the time was the chief: investigations at the Anti-Corruption Commission. Becker testified about the investigation, and how it was conducted. 

Conradie and Damases face three counts of contravening the Anti-Corruption Act for allegedly attempting to bribe Bongers and his wife and business partner Fields with the massive advertising contract from MTC if they took Damases on board as a black economic empowerment (BEE) partner.

Bongers made a recording of a meeting he and Fields had with Conradie and Damases in the office of Conradie on 12 June 2012, and subsequently reported the alleged bribe to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).

In the recordings, Conradie can be heard asking Bongers and Fields whether they have a BEE partner, and when Bongers answered in the negative, Conradie said that he can provide them with one.

Conradie can further be heard saying that the company of Bongers and Fields - DV8 Saatchi and Saatchi - was not the favourite to win the MTC advertising contract worth an estimated N$60 million at the time, but he could apparently change it in their favour. 

The meeting allegedly took place after Damases approached Bongers at his office with a “message from the MTC chairman”. 

According to Fields, she and Bongers only agreed to the meeting out of curiosity and because Damases introduced herself as the wife of Judge President Petrus Damaseb, and as an independent consultant for MTC.

Conradie allegedly told Bongers during the meeting that he would use his position as chair of the MTC board to ensure that the advertising agency owned by Bongers and Fields gets the telecommunication giant’s N$60 million advertising tender in return for them taking Damases on board as BEE equity in their company.  They were arrested in June 2012 after Bongers and Fields availed a tape recording of Conradie allegedly soliciting a bribe from them to the ACC. 

Conradie is represented by South African senior advocate Vas Soni, instructed by advocate Slysken Makando, while Vetu Uanivi is on record for Damases.

State advocate Ed Marondedze is prosecuting.

Conradie and Damases are free on bail.

2022-05-13  Roland Routh

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