CASE

CityPress - - News - PADDY HARPER paddy.harper@city­press.co.za

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

PHOTO: SIYAB­ULELA DUDA / GCIS

GUILTY? SA High Com­mis­sioner to Aus­tralia Sbu Nde­bele was granted R10 000 bail in the Dur­ban Spe­cialised Com­mer­cial Crimes Court this week

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