South Africa’s high commissioner to Australia, Sbu Ndebele, believes the corruption case against him is “weak” and he will be acquitted on charges that he took a bribe of R10 million in return for facilitating tenders in the transport department to the tune of R2 billion.
Ndebele has been accused in the case with his former director-general in the department of transport George Mahlalela; department deputy director Gilbert Thwala; and businessmen Tebogo Mphuthi and Sibusiso Ncube, who is the husband of KwaZulu-Natal local government MEC and ANC provincial treasurer Nomusa Dube. The men were granted bail of R10 000 each and will appear in court again on July 20.
Three companies owned by Ncube – DataForce Trading, trading as Tasima, Mandate Strategy Roadmap and Delivery, and Sinosa Construction – have also been charged.
Ndebele appeared in the Durban Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on Tuesday, while his co-accused had appeared in Pretoria a day earlier.
According to a preliminary indictment, the group has been charged with corruption, fraud, money laundering and contravening the Public Finance Management Act.
They are alleged to have forced the renewal of Tasima’s contract for running the department’s electronic traffic administration system, eNatis. Proper procedures were allegedly not followed during the process for the R1.9 billion tender.
Ncube, who has also been involved in controversial tenders for municipal water supply and security services in recent years, allegedly made about R50 million through the deal.
At the time of the alleged crimes, Mahlalela was the director-general in the department of transport, Thwala was a deputy director and Mphuti was the former chief executive of Tasima. Ncube (48) is a director in the other three companies, according to court papers.
Both Mahlalela and Ndebele allegedly received millions from Tasima shortly after the contract was renewed, with payments of R10.2 million being made into Ndebele’s Investec bank account from Sinosa’s bank account.
The state alleges that the payments to Ndebele were in fact laundered ones that were a “gratification to him as envisaged by the Corruption Act”.
Ndebele also allegedly failed to disclose the payments from Sinosa, something he was compelled to do as a member of Cabinet in terms of the Executive Members’ Ethics Act.
“Thus‚ the national minister started received [sic] payments totalling R10 264 000 on October 11 2010‚ about nine months after the department he was in charge of as a minister had concluded [without following prescribed procurement processes] a contract with one of [Ncube’s] business entities to the value of R49 551 724.83‚” reads the provisional indictment.
Ndebele, the indictment says, acted “in a manner that amounted to illegal, dishonest, incomplete, unauthorised or biased exercise”.
The money was allegedly paid into Ndebele’s Investec account in a series of payments, none of which was disclosed.
In an affidavit submitted to court, Ndebele said
GUILTY? SA High Commissioner to Australia Sbu Ndebele was granted R10 000 bail in the Durban Specialised Commercial Crimes Court this week