Mandela Charity’s Former CEO Charged Over Model’s Diamonds

Jeremy Ratcliffe, the former head of Nelson Mandela’s charity who admitted receiving uncut diamonds from model Naomi Campbell, was charged in a Johannesburg court this week.

Ratcliffe was charged on Sept. 28 with possession of uncut diamonds under the Contravention of Diamonds Act, Mthunzi Mhaga, spokesman for the National Prosecuting Authority, said in a phone interview from Johannesburg today.

On Aug. 5, Campbell told the war crimes trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor that two strangers gave her some “dirty looking stones” after a 1997 dinner at the home of then South African president Mandela. She testified that she handed the diamonds to Ratcliffe, who was chief executive officer of Mandela’s charity at the time. Ratcliffe handed the diamonds to South African police on Aug. 6 after Campbell’s testimony.

Ratcliffe wasn’t asked to plead when he appeared in the Wynberg magistrate court this week, Mhaga said. The case was postponed until Oct. 27 to give Ratcliffe time to make representations to the head of the prosecuting agency, he added.

The Johannesburg-based Saturday Star, which reported today on Ratcliffe’s court appearance, said the charges carry a 10-year jail sentence.

Calls to the Johannesburg office line of Bridget Masango, spokeswoman of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, weren’t answered today.

Taylor is facing charges at the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague, including enlisting child soldiers, murder and sexual slavery during the 1991-2002 civil war in the West African country, which claimed as many as 250,000 lives. He has denied the charges, as well as allegations that he provided weapons to fighters in the Revolutionary United Front, a Sierra Leone rebel movement, in exchange for diamonds.

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