The sentencing of nine people, eight men and a woman, found guilty on charges of racketeering and the theft of thousands of litres of fuel has started in the Free State High Court.
The matter relates to illegal activities between January 2005 and December 2006 near Naboomspruit and Warden in the Free State when they stole fuel, such as petrol, diesel and other types of fuel, worth millions of rand.
It was alleged that Nazier Ahmed Tiry of Warden paid truck drivers from different transporting companies to illegally off-load fuel on farms at Naboomspruit and Warden that belong to him. Tiry then again sold the fuel to other parties.
On Monday, an irritated Judge Jake Moloi postponed the matter, as a final postponement, to Tuesday for the sentencing proceedings to start.
This follows after Tiry and five others in court brought an application for a postponement.
Their legal counsel argued, on their behalf, that the police’s investigations into former Bloemfontein advocate, Karabo Tau, who was recently arrested on charges of corruption, extortion and conspiracy to commit an offence, need to be finalised.
Hawks spokesperson, S’fiso Nyakane, said earlier Tau was arrested after he was allegedly approached by the families of the nine people in the matter. Nyakane said Tau was arrested after he had allegedly tried to bribe a judge to acquit the nine. Their families allegedly paid him R80 000, which was apparently a deposit for the payment of R500 000 to the judge.
The defence counsel argued that the Tau matter casts a shadow over the sentencing proceedings and that this “cloud must lift” before sentencing could go on.
Judge Moloi refused the application for a postponement.
Moloi said since the matter started before the court in May 2014 “every trick in the book” was used to delay the case. Monday was the 80th day the case was before the court.
Judge Moloi ordered that sentencing proceedings will go on even after Tiry and the others’ legal counsel withdrew from the case on Monday. The judge said those who did not have legal representatives ready to proceed on Tuesday, will have to argue their own cases in mitigation.
Background: On both farms, a number of bulk storage tanks, surrounded by high-security walls, were found.
Three of the men worked at Sasol in Secunda and helped with the signing of off-loading documents as if the load was correctly received by Sasol employees.
The other accused in the matter are Patricia Sangweni, Sipho Tshabalala, Anthony Nyamusa, Goodenough Mthetwa, Alfred Buthelezi and Joseph Moisi, Velli Sithole and Solomon Nkosi who worked at Sasol in Secunda. – firstname.lastname@example.org
André Grobler – Bloemfontein Courant