Eden DA bribery charges dropped
BRIBERY and corruption charges against three Democratic Alliance (DA) Eden district councillors were dismissed on Monday by the George Regional Court, which found that the testimony of a key state witness was unreliable.
Magistrate Eugenia Jacobs ruled in favour of a defence application to drop the charges against Johan Koegelenberg and Henry McCombi, both Eden executive mayoral committee members, and former DA councillor Patrick Murray. The three were accused of offering former National People's Party councillor Anthony Ewerts R20000 to vote for Mr McCombi in an election for district council speaker in July 2009.
Not only was the court unable to trust former Eden official Deon Nomdoe, his evidence also differed substantially from that of Mr Ewerts, the only other state witness in the case, Ms Jacobs said.
Nomdoe pled guilty to charges of bribery and corruption in September 2010 and was sentenced to five years' imprisonment or a fine of R6000.
The DA took control of George, Knysna, Mossel Bay and Eden councils in local government elections last year, and formed ruling coalitions with the Congress of the People in Bitou and Hessequa.
Arguing for the dismissal of the charges against his clients, Christo van der Bergh said Nomdoe apparently offered the bribe on his own initiative as he was going to lose his job if the African National Congress (ANC) took control of the council.
After he was caught, Nomdoe negotiated a deal with the ANC to keep his job on condition that he implicated the three DA councillors in the bribery allegation, Mr van der Bergh said. He said the same thing happened when Nomdoe negotiated a plea bargain at his trial.
Nomdoe denied this.
Garden Route Media
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