Trial Postponed Again After Yengeny Hires New Lawyers
The trial of former African National Congress chief whip Tony Yengeni and the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) MD Michael Woerfel looks set to drag on to the end of July, after Yengeni's new legal team asked for a postponement to give it time to prepare for the case.
This is the second time the case has been postponed. It was originally scheduled for July 9, but the trial was held over until this year because of a dispute about the charge sheet, which the defence argued did not disclose an offence.
The case, which is to resume in Pretoria Commercial Crime Court on February 11, is to be staggered over three months, and now looks likely to end on July 24.
Magistrate Bill Moyses extended the two men's bail yesterday. Both have pleaded not guilty to charges of fraud and corruption relating to a 47% discount Yengeni allegedly received on a Mercedes Benz 4x4 valued at R349 950 in return for his alleged support for EADS bid in the arms deal.
Yengeni's original legal team, Hilton Epstein and Andre Bezuidenhout, allegedly withdrew after a dispute over an outstanding payment of R800 000.
Yengeni refused to comment about the replacement of his legal team yesterday, saying "my lips are sealed".
Instructing attorney Brian Mashile said he had known since the second week in December that he and senior counsel Viwe Notshe were taking over Yengeni's case.
"There is quite a volume of material to go through for this trial and there is still a lot to be covered," he said.
Yengeni is the most senior official to face charges with regard to the arms deal, which is riddled with allegations of corruption.
He faces a charge of corruption relating to the purchase of the vehicle, for which he received the discount.
He faces an alternative charge of fraud for not disclosing the discount to Parliament.
He was chairman of Parliament's joint standing committee on defence at the time of his alleged deal with Woerfel.
Woerfel has been charged with corruption for allegedly arranging the deal.
Both men face a charge of fraud for alleged false representations made in the vehicle's agreement of sale.
The order for Yengenis car allegedly came from DaimlerChrysler Aerospace in SA, which was headed by Woerfel.
With acknowledgements to Chantelle Benjamin and Business Day.