Media get Trilinear boss's evidence
This is according to evidence given by Sam Buthelezi to a commission of inquiry into the company. He is the former owner of the Trilinear asset management group responsible for the missing money.
In his testimony to the inquiry in May, Buthelezi said the loan agreement was still being negotiated when the first tranche of R30-million money was paid to Canyon Springs, as early as 2007.
"Yes, but millions of rands [were] being paid over without there being any agreement in place," said commission examiner Gavin Woodland SC. He said documents showed that the loan agreement was only finally signed two years later, in 2009.
Buthelezi's evidence was only obtained by the Mail & Guardian this week after it joined with Media24 and successfully contested the media's right to access to the evidence.
Buthelezi filed an application at the Western Cape High Court to stop the media from accessing his evidence. This followed a surprising move by commissioner Jan Reitz, who ruled that the media should not be present when Buthelezi gave his evidence because he was going to court to prevent the media from accessing it.
Buthelezi claimed his right to a fair trial would be compromised if his evidence was reported in the press.
But this week's bid by Buthelezi to keep the evidence he gave to the inquiry into Canyon Springs in May from the media was another blow. The once high-flying financial whizz has been charged with fraud in connection with R100-million of misappropriated pension fund money.
On Wednesday this week, Buthelezi appeared in court and argued for a postponement of his application. He said his legal team had withdrawn because he could not pay them. The court dismissed his application with costs.
In the M&G's and Media 24's heads of argument, advocate Eduard Fagan SC told the court Buthelezi possessed "material information" concerning the affairs of investment company Canyon Springs.
"No replying papers have, however, been delivered on behalf of Buthelezi," Fagan said.
He had not indicated in his founding affidavit why it would infringe on his rights if the media reported his evidence, Fagan said.
"The present application is substantially similar in one important aspect to a previous application brought in this court by Mr Richard Kawie, Buthelezi's close friend and business associate.
"He, too, is facing criminal charges. Kawie, who is alleged to have misappropriated funds together with Buthelezi, sought to avoid having to testify before the commissioner and brought an application with that in mind," Fagan said.
"One of the grounds raised by him was that various publications regarding the proceedings of the commission of inquiry constituted a breach of his right to privacy under section 14 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. His application was refused."
In defending the freedom of the press, Fagan said that on many occasions the Constitutional Court had referred to the importance of the right of freedom of expression in a democracy.