Judge asked to recuse himself

Hendrick Mphande

 

EMOTIONS ran high in the Port Elizabeth High Court yesterday when Malabar businessman Amier Moosagie took exception to the line of questioning by Judge Dayalin Chetty and asked him to recuse himself.

Moosagie, 60, and Desiree Jenkins, 55, are standing trial for VAT evasion-related charges – including fraud, theft, forgery and corruption amounting to about R3-million. They have pleaded not guilty and accused the police of shoddy investigation.

It also emerged yesterday that the investigation into Moosagie was handled only by officials from the South African Revenue Service (SARS).

For the past two days Moosagie, who was arrested in April 2008, has been in the witness stand being cross-examined by senior state advocate Theuns de Jager.

Yesterday, De Jager quizzed Moosagie over a falsified invoice he allegedly submitted to SARS to justify a payment of more than R800000.

When he was not forthcoming with a reply as to whether or not he knew about the invoice, Chetty asked Moosagie if he agreed with De Jager’s assertion that the invoice had been falsified.

A visibly upset Moosagie, who has maintained throughout the trial he cannot remember everything because it happened a long time ago, replied: “You have asked me many questions yourself. You are cross-examining me. Can you recuse yourself,” he told the judge.

Chetty refused to recuse himself and asked Moosagie’s advocate, Terry Price, whether he shared his client’s sentiment that he had cross- examined Moosagie.

Price said he was unable to comment. However, he told the court that Moosagie had approached him earlier to express his unhappiness with the court.

“My client felt uncomfortable with the manner my lord asked him questions. He does not feel he wants to proceed any longer. From an early stage your lordship was writing down the evidence of the state witnesses but not in this case [Moosagie’s testimony],” Price said.

Moosagie was ordered by the court to answer the question put to him by De Jager.

With regard to the invoice in question, Moosagie admitted it was falsified and said it had been given to him by a business associate, Shafique Naidu, and said it was “immaterial”.

“After you discovered the invoice had been falsified, did you attempt to repay the money to SARS?” De Jager asked.

Moosagie said he had written to SARS but they had opted to charge him and attach his assets.

But despite claims by Moosagie that Naidu had supplied falsified invoices to other business acquaintances, the court heard he had yet to be charged.

Moosagie also denied evidence by a SARS official that he had introduced himself as Ishmael Ahmed.

He also refuted claims that Mthatha-based SARS official Monde Swartbooi had been bribed with two “knock-off” suits, a Rolex watch and a silver pen he brought from overseas. He said they were gifts.

The trial continues.

 

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