IPTS trial delay frustrates Watson
As the fraud and money-laundering trial related to the Integrated Public Transport System (IPTS) experienced another delay on Thursday — this time being postponed to 2020 — one of the accused was evidently less than impressed than others on trial.
Former EP Kings rugby boss Cheeky Watson sat slumped in the dock as his defence attorney, Danie Gouws, told the Port Elizabeth Commercial Crimes Court the delay was extremely prejudicial to his client.
Gouws said so far, according to him, there was no evidence implicating Watson in the alleged offences.
He is accused alongside former assistant director in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro’s finance department, Nadia Gerwel, taxi boss Mandisi Mkasa, ex-Access Facilities and Leisure Management’s Stephan Pretorius and Zeranza events company director Andrea Wessels of siphoning millions of rand from the IPTS.
It is alleged Wessels conspired with Gerwel to defraud the metro in a manner designed to give them unlawful access to IPTS funds.
The state alleges a variation of the fraudulent scheme was introduced with the introduction of ESP Africa, predominantly responsible for the management of national and international music festivals.
But when ESP was no longer a viable vehicle to launder the funds, they allegedly turned to Access and, thereafter, EP Rugby.
Gouws said Watson had been forced to “just sit here” while evidence was being led.
Advocate Terry Price SC, representing some of the other accused, had meanwhile asked for the postponement to properly prepare his cross-examination of the last state witness, Gregory Rothman, the CEO of Laphum’ilanga, a key role-player in the implementation of the IPTS.
Unfortunately, due to a busy court roll, the next available date was only in March.
It is understood that, at the close of the state’s case, the defence will bring an application in terms of Section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Act for the discharge of all the accused due to a lack of evidence.
Before postponing the matter to March 30 2020, magistrate Lionel Lindoor joked that during the last few court sessions he had noticed Watson “relaxing at the back”.