State abandons use of info obtained through Gupta Leaks in Nulane trial

22 February 2023 - 16:51
By Isaac Mahlangu
The accused in the R24.9m Nulane Investments fraud and money-laundering case before the start of the trial in the Free State High Court. From left to right are Peter Thabethe, Limakatso Moorosi, Seipati Dhlamini, Iqbal Sharma, Ronica Ragavan and Dinesh Patel.
Image: File/ Ziphozonke Lushaba The accused in the R24.9m Nulane Investments fraud and money-laundering case before the start of the trial in the Free State High Court. From left to right are Peter Thabethe, Limakatso Moorosi, Seipati Dhlamini, Iqbal Sharma, Ronica Ragavan and Dinesh Patel.

The state in the R24.9m Nulane fraud and money-laundering trial will no longer pursue evidence obtained from the #GuptaLeaks e-mails, the Free State High Court heard on Wednesday.

State prosecutor Peter Serunye told the court that the state was closing its case and would call no more witnesses.

“Our evidence is sufficient, in our view. The state will then close its case,” Serunye told the court.

A trial-within-a-trial was anticipated after the state was forced last week to stand down a witness who would have given evidence of documents obtained from the #GuptaLeaks.

Serunye had indicated the state would oppose the trial-within-a-trial.

However, on Wednesday afternoon, after the virtual testimony of a witness based in Lagos, Nigeria, Serunye asked for a 10-minute adjournment to “check notes” and address the court on their way forward.

It is unclear how this move will impact on future cases in relation to evidence obtained from #GuptaLeaks.

Willem Edeling, representing former CFO Seipati Dhlamini, said defence lawyers would want acting judge Nompumelelo Gusha to rule on the evidence that was provisionally accepted as evidence.

Gusha said she will deliver a ruling once the trial resumes on Thursday.

The Nulane trial is the first case linked to state capture to get under way. It is based on an allegedly corrupt tender in which money was paid to Nulane Investments to conduct a feasibility study for the Free State’s Mohoma Mobung project.

The six accused in the trial are:

  • Gupta associate Iqbal Sharma;
  • Peter Thabethe, former head of the Free State department of rural development;
  • Limakatso Moorosi, former head of the Free State department of agriculture;
  • Seipati Dhlamini, former provincial agriculture CFO;
  • Dinesh Patel, Sharma’s brother-in-law and a representative of Nulane; and
  • Islandsite director Ronica Ragavan.

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