Former trade unionist Richard Kawie, who has been accused of facilitating an unsecured R100-million loan of factory clothing workers pension fund money to a company that has now been liquidated, claimed to be too ill to give evidence at the Canyon Springs insolvency inquiry on Monday.
Advocate Jannie Van Der Merwe handed the inquiry lawyers a doctor’s certificate from Kawie stating that he was suffering from depression and high blood pressure.
The pension fund money has gone up in smoke after it was lent to Canyon Springs, a company co-owned by former deputy minister of economic development Enoch Godongwana and his wife Thandiwe, by asset management company Trilinear.
The money is believed to be largely irrecoverable, as most of the companies it was reinvested in have since collapsed.
Kawie and Sam Buthelezi, the owner of Trilinear, have been arrested on fraud charges and both men have now been released on bail.
“It is my instruction that Mr Kawie is medically unfit to attend these proceedings,” Van der Merwe told the inquiry. “It is a well known fact that he was arrested and released last Thursday.”
Kawie was believed to have seen a doctor and a psychiatrist, said Van Der Merwe.
“I am sorry to hear of Mr Kawie’s indisposition,” said Advocate Gavin Woodland SC, who is acting on behalf of the South African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (Sactwu), which is running the inquiry.
However, Woodland pointed out that many people suffer from depression and high blood pressure, and managed to function normally with these ailments.
Van der Merwe said his client would only be fit enough to attend the Canyon Springs inquiry, which is wrapping up this week, in a month’s time.
Woodland said the doctor’s note did not explain he was medically unfit, but merely stated he had been advised to attend trauma counselling.
The inquiry lawyers are on Tuesday meeting with Sactwu to decide on how to deal with Kawie, and Buthelezi, who last week refused to co-operate with the inquiry lawyers when they relocated to Pollsmoor Prison. Buthelezi stated that he was willing to give evidence at the inquiry, but only with his lawyer was present.
Last week Godongwana told the inquiry he could not remember whether he had banked a mystery R510 000 cheque, made out to E and T Godongwana from one of Kawie’s companies Eclipse Capital.
Godongwana also pointed out he and his wife did not have joint bank accounts and that he and Kawie were in the habit of loaning each other money without drawing up loan agreements.
Godongwana further told the inquiry that Kawie had phoned him last Wednesday, and alleged he had suggested to him that they draw up a loan agreement to explain the R510 000 cheque. But Godongwana said he had refused to go along with Kawie’s alleged plan.
Kawie was due to be questioned on Monday on whether he had tried to coerce Godongwana into committing perjury.