Yengeni's ‘No Church Deacon', Court Told
Former African National Congress chief whip Tony Yengeni did not receive a near 50 percent discount on a luxury Mercedes Benz 4x4 out of mere generosity, it was argued in the Pretoria High Court on Tuesday.
"(He did not receive) the benefit out of charity, and not because he was the deacon of a church," Jan Henning, SC, argued for the State.
The only conclusion was that the benefit was given with the aim that Yengeni should reciprocate, using his influence from his position at the time as chair of Parliament's joint standing committee on defence, Henning told the court.
"If the applicants (Yengeni and his co-accused, businessman Michael Woerfel) have an innocent explanation, then it is easy to say so," he said.
Henning was disputing an argument by defence lawyers that in order for corruption charges against the two men to stand, the state had to prove that Yengeni accepted a bribe with the intention of returning a favour in relation to his powers and duties.
The politician faces a charge of corruption for allegedly buying the car at a 47 percent discount in return for using his influence to "market" the products of DaimlerBenz Aerospace AG or DaimlerBenz Aerospace SA.
Woerfel, then head of DaimlerBenz's Pretoria office, is charged with corruption for allegedly arranging the deal.
Daimler Benz Aerospace later became the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (Eads), of which Woerfel was the managing director. He was suspended from this post in July last year.
Eads has a 33 percent stake in Reutech Radar Systems, a Stellenbosch-based company that secured a R220-million contract to provide radar technology for four corvettes that are part of the country's multi-billion rand arms acquisition programme.
Both men face a charge of fraud for alleged false representations made in the agreement of sale.
Earlier this month, the Pretoria Commercial Crimes Court dismissed the pair's objections to the charge sheet which, they claimed, disclosed no offence.
They have now taken the matter on review to the High Court, seeking a dismissal of the corruption charges and the alternative fraud charge.
Henning asked the court to dismiss the review application, saying that the defence had shown no compelling reason for the matter to be considered
With acknowledgements to Sapa and www.iol.co.za