Benz Brothers Trial Postponed Again
|Publication||Mail and Guardian|
Erika de Beer, Sapa
The fraud and corruption trial of former African National Congress chief whip Tony Yengeni and businessman Michael Woerfel was on Thursday postponed in the Pretoria Commercial Crimes Court to next month.
The trial is to resume on February 11 to give Yengeni's new legal team a chance to prepare.
Asked afterwards why he appointed new counsel, Yengeni put his finger over his mouth and said: "My lips are sealed."
The politician faces a charge of corruption for allegedly buying a luxury 4X4 Mercedes at a 47% discount in return for using his influence to "market" the products of Daimler-Benz Aerospace AG or Daimler-Benz Aerospace SA.
He faces an alternative count of fraud for failing to disclose the benefit to Parliament.
Woerfel, then head of Daimler-Benz's Pretoria representative office, is charged with corruption for allegedly arranging the deal on a Mercedes Benz ML 320A.
Daimler-Benz was the manufacturer of the AT2000 - which was at the time being considered with two other aircraft in South Africa's search for an advanced light fighter aircraft in terms of the arms acquisition process.
Both men face a charge of fraud for alleged false representations made in the agreement of sale drawn up for the car deal.
They have pleaded not guilty.
The trial was postponed in July last year to Thursday. At the postponement last year, the trial was set to be staggered over three months. It was to have been conducted from Thursday for a week, then again from February 11 to 21, and finally March 19 to 25.
This is the second postponement. The trial was initially set down for July 9 to 26 last year, but was delayed by extensive legal wrangling over the charge sheet - which the defence contended did not disclose an offence.
With acknowledgements to Erika de Beer, Sapa and the Mail and Guardian.