Ractliffe pleads not guilty in uncut-diamonds case

Former Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund trustee Jeremy Ractliffe pleaded not guilty to a charge of possession of uncut diamonds in the Alexandra Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.

“I have pleaded not guilty because, in my mind, I did not believe that my possession of the stones, if they are shown to be diamonds — was in any way unlawful,” said a statement read on behalf of Ractliffe by his lawyer, Mike Hellens.

“I simply solved that which I thought was a problem for Naomi Campbell in preventing her from taking the stones out of the country by holding them for her.”

The court case was delayed due to technical problems.

“Is there anything in this place that is working?” magistrate Renier Boshoff asked when the transcriber stopped working.

Eventually a lead was run from another office to the court.

On Monday Boshoff apologised to Ractliffe for the postponement caused by a power failure at the court.

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

War-crimes tribunal
Ractliffe was charged with contravening the Diamond Act.

Campbell, a British supermodel, 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.

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

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Advertising

SANDF inquiry clears soldiers of the death of Collins Khosa

The board of inquiry also found that it was Khosa and his brother-in-law Thabiso Muvhango who caused the altercation with the defence force members

No back to school for teachers just yet

Last week the basic education minister was adamant that teachers will return to school on May 25, but some provinces say not all Covid-19 measures are in place to prevent its spread

Lockdown relief scheme payouts to employees tops R14-billion

Now employers and employees can apply to the Unemployment Insurance Fund for relief scheme payments
Advertising

Press Releases

Road to recovery for the tourism sector: The South African perspective

The best-case scenario is that South Africa's tourism sector’s recovery will only begin in earnest towards the end of this year

What Africa can learn from Cuba in combating the Covid-19 pandemic

Africa should abandon the neoliberal path to be able to deal with Covid-19 and other health system challenges likely to emerge in future

Coexisting with Covid-19: Saving lives and the economy in India

A staggered exit from the lockdown accompanied by stepped-up testing to cover every district is necessary for India right now

Covid-19: Eased lockdown and rule of law Webinar

If you are arrested and fined in lockdown, you do get a criminal record if you pay the admission of guilt fine

Covid-19 and Frontline Workers

Who is caring for the healthcare workers? 'Working together is how we are going to get through this. It’s not just a marathon, it’s a relay'.

PPS webinar Part 2: Small business, big risk

The risks that businesses face and how they can be dealt with are something all business owners should be well acquainted with

Call for applications for the position of GCRO executive director

The Gauteng City-Region Observatory is seeking to appoint a high-calibre researcher and manager to be the executive director and to lead it

DriveRisk stays safe with high-tech thermal camera solution

Itec Evolve installed the screening device within a few days to help the driver behaviour company become compliant with health and safety regulations