Yengeni's Legal Aid Bid Slammed
INet Bridge, Donwald Pressly
Cape Town - The New National Party says former National Assembly chief whip Tony Yengeni has shown remarkable "chutzpah" in applying to the Legal Aid Board for aid for his fraud trial.
NNP justice spokesperson Sheila Camerer said chutzpah has become his trademark. "He is facing serious charges of fraud and corruption but these charges arose out of his alleged misuse of his position as a Member of Parliament and chairperson of the defence portfolio committee."
Yengeni, who remains an African National Congress MP, is standing trial with former European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (Eads) executive Michael Woerfel on charges of fraud and corruption in connection with the government's multi-billion rand arms procurement project.
Yengeni's previous legal team withdrew when he appeared in the Pretoria commercial court because he apparently owned them more than R800 000 in legal fees.
Camerer said in October 1998 Yengeni felt able to buy a R329 895 Mercedes Benz ML320 for R182 563. As an MP he still earned more or less R25 000 a month, she pointed out.
In 2001 he was able to place a full-page advertisement in Sunday papers at a cost of R250 000 proclaiming his innocence.
"There is no way that Tony Yengeni could be deemed a suitable indigent litigant," she said, responding to the report that he had applied for aid.
"Affording him assistance by the Legal Aid Board would be a travesty of all it is meant to accomplish," she said.
Justice spokesperson Paul Setsetse said he was not aware of the application but said any member of the public could apply for assistance. The board, which was independent, would decide on the merits of the application based - among other criteria - on financial need. "It is not a political issue," he said. - INet Bridge
With acknowledgements to INet Bridge, Donwald Pressly and News24.