Former Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund trustee Jeremy Ractliffe was found not guilty on a charge of possession of uncut diamonds in the Alexandra Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.
The court ruled that Ractliffe had no case to answer because prosecutors had failed to provide enough evidence to back the charges.
“The court is [of the] opinion that the state has not proved its case. Mr Ractliffe, you are not guilty of this charge,” magistrate Renier Boshoff said.
Holding uncut diamonds without a permit is a crime in South Africa, punishable by up to 10 years in prison or a R250 000 fine, or both.
International model 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”.
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 said at the time 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. — Sapa, AFP