Bizarre allegations fly at Harksen’s hearing

Jurgen Harksen has claimed that former Western Cape finance MEC Leon Markovitz once impersonated a doctor to speak to him confidentially in hospital. But Markovitz has his own version of events.

Harksen was taken to City Park Hospital in Cape Town last month when he took an overdose of pills in police cells, following his arrest a few days earlier.

He told the Desai Commission on Thursday that Markovitz used the doctor ruse to get the policeman on guard to leave the room so he could have a ”privileged conversation” with his patient.

Once the policeman was gone Markovitz had told him he was worried about being subpoenaed in Harksen’s insolvency enquiry.

”He explained it was very important that I stick to my friends and my friends stick to me,” Harksen told the commission. Addressing a media briefing on Thursday afternoon, Markovitz confirmed that he did visit Harksen at City Park, but said he went there ”on a humanitarian basis”.

He had felt concern for a person he had once had lunches and dinners with in a bid to get donations for the Democratic Alliance. He established what floor Harksen was on, and walked up. There he saw a police inspector and told him who he was.

”I’m sure the policeman would be able to say I never posed as a doctor,” he said.

While he was there, there was a change in the police detail, and when the new officer walked in, Harksen had said: ”It’s all right, he’s my doctor.”

”To suggest that I posed as a doctor would really be crazy. It’s just not my style to do so,” said Markovitz.

”I didn’t even have a stethoscope around my neck.”

Markovitz also had his own version of Harksen’s entertaining story that former Western Cape premier Gerald Morkel used a telephonic number code to cover up his contacts with the German.

Harksen said Morkel was very sensitive about conversations over the phone, indicating he would not like to mention names ”like Jurgen and Harksen”, and preferred to use code numbers instead.

”I was very fortunate to get Number One and Mr Morkel was Number Two. I really did not accept this and I called him Number One-A. Mr Markovitz was Number Ten,” Harksen said. He said Morkel’s son Kent, a Cape Town city councillor, was number three.

However, Markovitz said that when Morkel approached him to join the provincial cabinet in about 1998, his offices were at 10 Portswood Road.

”And Mr Morkel didn’t want anybody else to know, other than his private secretary, who he was phoning.

”So he would use the term ‘number ten’ on a number of occasions. It became just a joke afterwards that he used to say to his secretary ‘please get number ten on the telephone’.

”So that’s how I was known as number ten.”

Added Morkel, who was also at the media briefing: ”It was just a big joke.” – Sapa

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Ben Maclennan
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