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Racism accusations fly in Malatsi testimony

A senior official in the Western Cape’s department of environmental affairs was on Wednesday accused of racism by corruption accused David Malatsi.

Malatsi, a former environment and development planning minister in the province, was being cross-examined by prosecutor Bruce Morrison in the Bellville Regional Court.

Malatsi had told the court on Tuesday in his evidence-in-chief that he promised then premier Peter Marais — who is also his co-accused in the case — a decision on the Roodefontein application by a particular day.

However, the official tasked with making the decision, Ingrid Coetzee, who had earlier said the application was procedurally flawed, refused to do so.

Malatsi told the court on Wednesday that this refusal was tantamount to her saying: ”I won’t take instructions from a black man.”

Malatsi also hit out at previous testimony in the case from another department official, legal adviser Clarissa Molteno, that he had played with his cellphone during a briefing session with members of the department.

In fact, Malatsi said, he had been making notes of the proceedings on his phone, a Nokia 9210 with PC capabilities.

Molteno’s remarks were those of ”typical racist”, he said.

”What’s racist about that?” asked Morrison.

”Blacks like to play. They are not paying attention,” Malatsi replied.

Malatsi and Marais are alleged to have accepted R400 000 from Italian Count Riccardo Agusta — who himself pleaded guilty to corruption in 2003 — in donations to the New National Party to smooth the approval process for the planned R500-million Roodefontein golf estate at Plettenberg Bay. — Sapa

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