Cape Town – A Hawks investigator in a corruption trial involving several high-ranking police officers was on Tuesday criticised for how he went about tracking their financial transactions.
The officers’ lawyers put it to Colonel Wynand Wessels in the Western Cape High Court that an independent forensic auditor would have been more qualified for the task.
They believed he had not approached the accused to explain the transactions, or consider those on record, before concluding his report.
Wessels was the State’s first witness. He responded that he could not decide what transactions to exclude.
“It is not up to me to decide what is a corrupt transaction. It is my duty to include all financial transactions and leave it to the court to decide,” he said after a long day of cross-examination.
Former Western Cape police commissioner Arno Lamoer and three brigadiers – Darius van der Ross, Sharon Govender and her husband Collin Govender – and businessman Salim Dawjee, have pleaded not guilty to 109 charges of corruption, racketeering, and money laundering involving R1.6m.
The officers allegedly received “gratifications” they did not declare in exchange for advancing Dawjee’s personal and business interests.
The accused have denied being involved in any form of criminal enterprise and claimed there were legitimate and legal reasons for the transactions.
Van der Ross’ defence was that it was highly improbable for an officer with almost 30 years of service to make himself guilty of corruption by “accepting a retainer” that equated to less than R200 a month.
This figure was based on the State’s version of the alleged gratifications he received from Dawjee.
Wessels agreed it was improbable. He conceded he had found no evidence that Lamoer was on the payroll of Dawjee or of businesses linked to him.
Johnny Nortje, for Sharon Govender, asked Wessels if he aware that she and her husband were relatives of Dawjee. He said he was not unaware.
“There is nothing untoward for family members to conclude agreements of a financial nature,” Nortje said.
The same applied to police members and their relatives, he said.
Wessels said it depended on the type of family relation.
The court heard different interpretations of the Corruption Act and whether it extended to benefits for family members of the accused, whether they were aware of certain transactions or not.
The trial continues on Wednesday.