Harksen ‘promised Cape convention centre contract’

Jurgen Harksen promised an associate a contract to work on Cape Town’s convention centre in return for a donation to the Democratic Alliance, the Desai Commission heard on Wednesday.

Construction developer Antonie Karsten told the commission however that he did not believe the German and never gave the R200 000 he suggested.

He said Harksen told him that Cape Town mayor Gerald Morkel’s son was ”in charge” of the multi-million rand convention centre project.

Harksen said if he donated the money, he would get the tiling contract for the centre.

The commission has previously heard that Morkel’s son Kent, a member of the city exco, is the council representative on the convention centre’s board.

Asked by judge Siraj Desai whether Harksen’s proposal had sounded far-fetched, Karsten said: ”In Mr Harksen’s world that kind of thing is not far-fetched.”

Karsten has already testified that he processed large amounts of Deutschmarks for Harksen through the account of his own Voyager Trust.

He was close to Harksen until a R2,5-million investment went sour, and spilled the beans to the police on the German earlier this year.

Meanwhile, former Western Cape director general Niel Barnard is seeking payment of R1 000 an hour to testify before the Desai Commission.

The commission’s leader of evidence, Craig Webster, confirmed on Wednesday that he received a letter to this effect from Barnard’s lawyers on Tuesday.

He said Barnard was asking for R1 000 an hour not only for the time he spent at the commission, but also for his preparation.

Barnard, who is now working as a private sector consultant, said that this was the rate he charged for his services.

Webster said the commissions act specified what witnesses were entitled to, which included subsistence and travel allowances and an amount to compensate for lost earnings not exceeding R1 000 a

day.

Barnard would be informed of this, he said.

Barnard is expected to appear before the commission on September 16.

Judge Siraj Desai has already heard evidence linking Barnard to the installation of the Watchdog electronic device that gave raise to a bugging scare in the provincial administration.

There has also been testimony about his hiring former

intelligence agents to staff an information-gathering unit in the administration. – Sapa

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Ben Maclennan
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