Harksen tells of DA’s well-feathered nest

Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon was aware of at least one of Jurgen Harksen’s donations to the party, the controversial businessman told the Desai Commission on Thursday.

In a morning of dramatic testimony, Harksen told the commission of the donations — usually in cash — totalling more than a million rand.

This included about R100 000 which he contributed to the cost of Morkel’s High Court battle against his expulsion from the New National Party last year.

Harksen also raised another R165 000 from friends.

He said he was present at a meeting in a lawyer’s offices where the papers for the case were being drafted, along with DA leader in the Western Cape legislature Hennie Bester.

He did not get the impression Bester was ashamed to be together with him, and had no doubt Bester knew about the fact he was bankrolling the case.

Asked by his advocate Peter Mihalik what other politicians were aware of this, Harksen replied: ”I would also say Mr Tony Leon.”

He said the matter was discussed at a fundraising lunch he organised for the DA in Constantia, attended by Leon and Morkel, and that Bester had made a call to Leon from the lawyer’s office in his presence.

Asked by Judge Siraj Desai if it was true that the DA leadership ”at the highest level” knew of his funding, Harksen said: ”I have no doubt about this.”

He said that at the same lunch Morkel had made it clear he and former Western Cape Finance MEC Leon Markovitz were involved ”family wise” in the proposed multi-million rand Cape Town convention centre, and that if anyone around the table was involved in the building industry ”maybe he could be helped too”.

Harksen’s testimony has been postponed to May 28, when he is expected to complete his evidence-in-chief.

At the close of proceedings on Thursday, Desai ordered that Harksen be placed ”under protective custody” after the controversial German businessman expressed fears about his safety.

Harksen is being held in Goodwood prison, but Mihalik asked for an order that he be put in a witness protection programme instead.

Harsken confirmed he was being treated by several specialists for his ”mental well-being”.

Desai ordered that ”all necessary steps” be taken to ensure Harksen’s safety, that he be immediately placed under protective custody, and that this order be brought to the attention of the ministers of Justice, Safety and Security and Correctional Services. – Sapa

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Ben Maclennan
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