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Covid-19 temporarily grounds Conradie's corruption trial

2020-07-16  Roland Routh

Covid-19 temporarily grounds Conradie's corruption trial
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The trial of prominent Windhoek lawyer Dirk Conradie and his long-time friend Sara Ngenohani Damases hit another snag as Covid-19 restrictions means that his South African senior counsel Vas Soni cannot attend the hearing in the Windhoek High Court.
High Court Judge Thomas Masuku postponed yet another high-profile trial to 9 November, to enable the State to continue adducing evidence against the two accused.
The lawyers however, will have to return to court on 2 November for a status hearing to assess the Covid-19 situation and whether Soni will be able to attend.

Judge Masuku also suggested yesterday that if the Covid-19 situation does not improve by the next hearing, they could go virtual with Advocate Soni, the senior counsel defending Conradie from South Africa.
So far, the court has heard testimony from Mark Bongers and Kim Fields who recorded a conversation they had with Conradie and Damases, in which they were allegedly promised the advertising contract from MTC, which was worth around N$60 million at that stage.
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 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 DV8 Saatchi and Saatchi, the company of Bongers and Fields, is not the favourite to win the MTC advertising contract, but he could apparently change it in their favour. 

The meeting apparently 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 will 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 a black economic empowerment (BEE) equity in their company. 
They were arrested in June 2012 after Bongers and Fields allegedly availed a tape recording of Conradie, allegedly soliciting a bribe from them, to the ACC. 

Soni was instructed by Advocate Slysken Makando on behalf of Conradie and Vetu Uanivi is on record for Damases.
State Advocate Ed Marondedze assisted by Advocate Salomon Kanyemba is prosecuting. 
Conradie and Damases are free on bail.

2020-07-16  Roland Routh

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