Harksen says he was told to lie by Morkel’s lawyer

Alleged German fraudster Jurgen Harksen has claimed that Gerald Morkel’s lawyer phoned him on the eve of his latest round of testimony to the Desai Commission, urging him to stick to a particular version of events.

Harksen’s claim, made under cross examination on Tuesday, caused a stir at the hearing, and chairman Judge Siraj Desai gave immediate orders that the call be traced.

The commission’s leader of evidence, advocate Craig Webster, reported back soon after that the number the call came from was apparently that of Paul Katzeff, Morkel’s attorney.

Katzeff was also Harksen’s attorney until the two men parted ways on April 22.

Harksen, who is in protective custody, told the commission he received the call on the cellphone of one of his police bodyguards at 5pm on Monday.

He said Katzeff spoke to him about a donation the German made towards the costs of a court case Morkel brought against the New National Party last year.

”He told me I must stick to the version I have not given money to Mr Morkel’s court case,” Harksen told the commission.

He said he told Katzeff he could not do this.

”In other words Mr Katzeff was telling you to lie?” asked advocate Peter Hodes, who is appearing for Morkel and the Democratic Alliance.

”To use your words, yes,” replied Harksen.

At that point he asked for an adjournment to get headache tablets.

Adjourning proceedings for the lunch break, Desai said he wanted to bring ”forcefully” to the attention of Katzeff — who was not present at the commission hearings — and all legal representatives involved in the proceedings except Harksen’s own, that they should not communicate with the German while he was giving evidence.

Harksen had told the commission earlier he channelled an amount of R48 000 through a second businessman, a Mr Sauerland, to fund the court case.

Asked why he did not pay it directly, he said Katzeff was very sensitive and wanted to be sure that whatever money he received ”he could justify where it came from”.

The bill totalled R229 710.

Evidence on Tuesday was that at the end of April this year, there was still an outstanding balance of R46 000. – Sapa

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Ben Maclennan
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