Publication: Mail and Guardian Issued: Date: 2003-09-19 Reporter: Stefaans Brummer

Shoddy as Well as Sneaky



Mail and Guardian

Date 2003-09-19


Stefaans Brümmer

Web Link


Peter Marais and David Malatsi took few precautions -- no Swiss bank accounts, no anonymous envelopes stuffed with cash -- to cover their alleged corruption in the Roodefontein property scandal, it appears from a draft charge sheet against both disgraced politicians.

Marais, the former Western Cape premier, and Malatsi, his former minister of environmental affairs and development, will go on trial in the Knysna Regional Court on November 17, about 11 months after the funds-for-development rights scandal first broke.

Marais and Malatsi both face two counts of corruption for allegedly accepting R400 000 for their New National Party from Count Riccardo Agusta. This, according to the charge sheet, was to "lubricate" official approval for Roodefontein, Agusta's planned golf and equestrian estate near Plettenberg Bay.

Malatsi also faces a surprise further four counts of fraud and theft relating to his alleged private use of some of the money donated to the NNP.

The charge sheet details how Malatsi allegedly struck up a relationship with Agusta after Malatsi's own department delayed approving the Roodefontein development on, inter alia, environmental grounds.

In April last year Malatsi and Marais visited Roodefontein where they were met by Agusta. There, if the charge sheet is correct, Malatsi made an error of great recklessness. "Following on this visit Malatsi informed his chauffeur Mr Matafin that R300 000 would be donated to the NNP by the developers, should the Roodefontein development be approved."

It appears Matafin will be called as a witness against Malatsi.

On April 17 Marais and Malatsi met the developers again. That same day Marais - not quite as careless as Malatsi, but no less brazen - allegedly instructed that a letter with the NNP's banking details be sent to Agusta, but that all traces of the letter be destroyed afterwards.

The next day Agusta transferred R300 000 directly to an NNP account, and, another day later, he allegedly personally handed Malatsi a cheque made out to the NNP for a further R100 000.

Malatsi deposited that cheque into an NNP account which he person- ally controlled, and it is alleged that he transferred about R37 000 of that to his private account.

The same day Malatsi collected the cheque from Agusta he allegedly instructed his responsible official to approve the development. When she refused, he replaced her with an official who complied. It is expected the sidelined official, Ingrid Coetzee, will be another star prosecution witness.

If Marais and Malatsi are convicted, they may regret that they weren't much sneakier than the prosecution alleges they were.

With acknowledgements to Stefaans Brümmer and the Mail and Guardian.