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Golf-estate case: Marais takes stand

Former Western Cape premier Peter Marais told his environment planning minister David Malatsi to make a ”political decision” on the Roodefontein golf-estate development if it was necessary, the Bellville Regional Court heard on Tuesday.

This was evidence from Malatsi as he took the stand for the first time to testify in his own defence.

He and Marais face corruption charges over payments totalling R400 000 to the New National Party in 2002, which the state claims were bribes to smooth the way for environmental approval of the multimillion-rand Roodefontein development.

Malatsi said that on April 5 that year, he and Marais visited Roodefontein on the outskirts of Plettenberg Bay, and were flown over it in a helicopter provided by the Italian developer, Count Riccardo Agusta. They also had supper that night with Agusta. Agusta has already paid a R1-million fine after concluding a plea bargain with the Scorpions.

On April 17, Malatsi and senior officials from his department joined Roodefontein representatives at a meeting in Marais’ office.

The developers outlined their problems, and Marais asked Malatsi’s officials to respond.

The official responsible for the decision, Ingrid de Kock, explained that the Roodefontein application was ”procedurally flawed” and could not be entertained.

Marais retorted that this was ”poppycock” and that he had expected to hear more substantive issues, not administrative redtape, Malatsi said.

Marais told Malatsi he would have to make a decision, ”even if it means making a political decision”.

Malatsi said he promised Marais a ruling by the 19th, two days later. After the meeting De Kock asked him to withdraw the delegated authority that gave her responsibility for the decision, because she would not be able to make it.

”I remember telling [her]: You will make a decision,” he said.

Malatsi said Marais never said whether the decision should be positive or negative.

The matter has been set down for two weeks.

In December last year, a Cape Town regional magistrate rejected a bid by Marais and Malatsi for their discharge on two counts of corruption.

After that court apearance, Marais appeared disappointed at the ruling, but put on a brave face for the media outside the court building.

With his wife, Bonnita, at his side, he told journalists he respects the court’s ruling, ”though I’ll be lying if I say I’m not shocked”.

”I’ll prove in February that I am innocent and the state is wrong. I’m not down. I’m an eagle: I’ll keep on flying.” – Sapa

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