Namibia: Lawyer Absence Stalls Conradie Trial

10 November 2020

The trial of prominent Windhoek lawyer Dirk Conradie and his long-time friend Sara Ngenohani Damases was for the umpteenth time postponed yesterday, this time to 8 March next year.

High Court Judge Thomas Masuku ordered the postponement after Conradie's South African lawyer Vas Soni excused himself from yesterday's hearing.

So far, the court has heard testimony from Mark Bongers and Kim Fields who recorded a conversation they had with Conradie and Damases, in which they were allegedly promised the advertising contract of MTC, which was worth around N$60 million at that stage.

Conradie and Damases face three counts of contravening the Anti-Corruption Act for allegedly attempting to bribe Bongers and his wife and business partner Fields with the massive advertising contract from MTC if they took Damases on board as a black economic empowerment (BEE) partner.

Bongers made a recording of a meeting he and Fields had with Conradie and Damases in the office of Conradie on 12 June 2012 and subsequently reported the alleged bribe to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).

In the recordings, Conradie can be heard asking Bongers and Fields whether they have a BEE partner and when Bongers answered in the negative, Conradie said that he can provide them with one.

Conradie can further be heard saying that DV8 Saatchi and Saatchi, the company of Bongers and Fields, is not the favourite to win the MTC advertising contract worth an estimated N$60 million, but he could apparently change it in their favour.

The meeting apparently took place after Damases approached Bongers at his office with a "message from the MTC chairman".

Conradie allegedly told Bongers during the meeting that he will use his position as chair of the MTC board to ensure that the advertising agency owned by Bongers and Fields gets the telecommunication giant's N$60 million advertising tender in turn for them taking Damases on board as a BEE partner in their company.

They were arrested in June 2012 after Bongers and Fields allegedly availed a tape recording of Conradie, allegedly soliciting a bribe from them to the ACC.

Soni was instructed by Slysken Makando on behalf of Conradie, while Vetu Uanivi is on record for Damases.

Ed Marondedze and Salomon Kanyemba are prosecuting.

Conradie and Damases are free on bail.

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