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15 Nov 2007 18:05
The Independent Democrats (ID) has laid theft charges against its expelled former secretary general Avril Harding.
The decision to lay criminal charges against the former MP follows the disappearance of about 5Â 000 election poster backing boards from the ID’s Port Elizabeth offices, ID secretary general Haniff Hoosen said in a statement on Thursday.
“The charge against Harding was laid after two ID councillors confirmed that he had an extra set of keys for the office.
“The ID, which is participating in a by-election in nearby Uitenhage on December 5 2007, has heard that Harding’s SDP [Social Democratic Party] is also contesting the by-election,” he said.
Harding could also face further theft charges if he continues to ignore the party’s request that he return a laptop and internet data card belonging to the ID.
“We have now decided that if he does not return the laptop and data card within three days, we will lay a second charge of theft against him,” Hoosen said.
Harding is also facing a sexual harassment charge laid against him by ID deputy president Agnes Tsamai in August. - Sapa
Former ID secretary-general Avril Harding has responded to this article published in 2007.
In the interests of fairness the M&G has decided to publish the right of reply in full as it does bring into dispute the facts of the story as initially reported.
1. In a bid to besmirch my name, certain individuals in the ID at the time, made every effort and went out of their way to achieve this result in a bid “to ruin me for the rest of my life”.
2. The charges against me:
a. Theft of the posters in Port Elizabeth – I co-operated with the SAPS in this matter as I had nothing to hide and was in Cape Town before and after the disappearance of the posters. The investigating officer, at the time contacted me and I met him in Cape Town and he was perplexed at how he was going to prove a case against someone who had not been in Port Elizabeth immediately before, during or immediately after the crime. Needless to say, the investigation ceased and never even reached the formalisation of charges stage.
b. Theft of laptop and data card – These items were returned to the ID offices, weeks before, via a third person and in fact were in the ID’s parliamentary offices at the time of your report. The charge reported in your publication was never reported to the SAPS in Cape Town or anywhere else and consequently there was no investigation.
c. The sexual harassment charges only held in the hostile and hastily assembled Kangaroo court of the ID at the time. The ID leader strenuously tried to persuade the Office of the NPP in North West, twice, to pursue charges without any success. At the time, I co-operated with the SAPS investigation as I again had nothing to hide. The NPP and SAPS in North West informed me that there was no reasonable chance of a successful prosecution and had apparently told Ms De (Patricia) Lille and the complainant so before the investigation even started. Again, both investigations were ceased before even reaching the formalisation of charges stage.
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