Ractliffe case disrupted by power failure

The case of former Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund trustee Jeremy Ractliffe, who is facing charges relating to the possession of uncut diamonds, was postponed by the Alexandra Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

Magistrate Renier Boshoff offered his apologies to Ractliffe for the postponement, which was caused by a power failure at the court.

“Looks like we are in the dark here,” Boshoff said.

The court has a generator, but it was not yet fully installed.

Ractliffe’s defence lawyer, Nicholas Taitz, said the postponement was “disappointing”. The case was postponed to June 15 for trial.

Ractliffe appeared briefly in the regional court and left the courthouse immediately afterwards, refusing to comment on the trial.

He has been charged with contravening the Diamond Act and is out on a warning.

Blood diamonds
British supermodel Naomi Campbell testified at The Hague war crimes tribunal last year that she thought it was former Liberian president Charles Taylor who had given her a bag of diamonds, which it was argued were “blood diamonds”.

Taylor is being tried in The Hague for trading in illegal diamonds, referred to during his trial as blood diamonds, to arm rebels in Sierra Leone.

Campbell said she was given the uncut diamonds after a charity fundraiser in South Africa in 1997, also attended by Taylor.

She said she handed the stones to Ractliffe, who was at the time chief executive of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.

He admitted he took and kept three small uncut diamonds so that Campbell would not get into trouble.

Ractliffe handed the stones to the police on the same day that Campbell testified at the war crimes tribunal.

A person found to illegally possess uncut diamonds could face 10 years in prison or a R250 000 fine, or both.—Sapa

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