Lawyer aims for acquittal on corruption charges

Dirk Conradie

Windhoek-based lawyer Dirk Conradie and a co-accused in a long-running trial in the Windhoek High Court, Sara Damases, have applied to be found not guilty after the prosecution concluded its case in their trial.

A ruling on the application by Conradie and Damases for their discharge after the end of the state’s case in their trial will be delivered on 16 July, judge Thomas Masuku said after hearing oral arguments on the application on Friday.

Conradie (64) and Damases (59) denied guilt on three charges under the Anti-Corruption Act during plea proceedings before Masuku on 18 March 2016. The first testimony in their trial was heard in May 2018.

They are jointly charged with one count of corruptly soliciting gratification as a reward for using influence in procuring a contract, and a charge of attempting or conspiring to contravene sections of the Anti-Corruption Act.

Conradie alone is also charged with corruptly using his former position as chairperson of the board of directors of the telecommunications company MTC to obtain gratification for himself or another person.

The state is alleging that Conradie offered in June 2012 to use his influence as MTC board chairperson to have an advertising contract worth about N$60 million awarded to the advertising company DV8 Saatchi & Saatchi, if the company’s directors agreed to take Damases on board as a black economic empowerment partner.

Senior counsel Vas Soni, who is leading Conradie’s defence team, argued on Friday that Conradie cannot be convicted of using his position as MTC board chairperson to obtain gratification because MTC is not a public body and he was not a public officer in his capacity as chairperson of the company’s board of directors.

Dirk Conradie and a co-accused, Sara Damases

Soni argued it had to be proven that Conradie had been a public officer for him to be found guilty on that charge.

He also argued that Conradie is incorrectly charged with corruptly soliciting gratification as a reward for using influence in procuring a contract, and should have been charged under a different section of the Anti-Corruption Act that deals with tenders, instead of contracts.

Damases’ defence lawyer, Vetu Uanivi, argued that the evidence before the court did not show that Damases acted in common purpose with Conradie when he made the alleged corrupt proposal to the advertising company’s directors. The evidence showed Damases was surprised by Conradie’s proposal, Uanivi argued as well.

On behalf of the state, deputy prosecutor general Ed Marondedze argued that more than sufficient evidence calling for an answer from Conradie and Damases has been placed before the court by the prosecution.

Conradie was appointed as MTC board chairperson by the Cabinet, and MTC was established as a subsidiary of the state-owned company Namibia Post and Telecom Holdings, which is a state organ, with the result that MTC was also created as a state organ and public body, Marondedze argued.

He further argued that during the cross-examination of the state’s witnesses, it was not denied that Conradie had made an offer that he would swing a decision about the MTC advertising contract in favour of DV8. In fact, by telling the advertising company’s directors that they were also guilty of an offence, Soni acknowledged that a crime had been committed when Conradie made his offer to them, Marondedze added.

Conradie and Damases are both free on a warning from the court.

Soni is representing Conradie on instructions from Slysken Makando.

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