Hawks, NPA face a R19m lawsuit
Former civil servant Thulani Sibuyi is pursuing a legal case against police head, despite having been acquitted on fraud charges two years ago
Aformer Mpumalanga civil servant is out for revenge after the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) allegedly “ruined my life with baseless criminal charges”. Former Mpumalanga safety and security head Thulani Sibuyi has now filed a R19 million lawsuit against police minister Nkosinathi Nhleko and NPA head Shaun Abrahams for unlawful arrest and detention, malicious prosecution and defamation.
The Hawks arrested and charged Sibuyi for tender fraud and contravention of the Public Finance Management Act on August 8 2012, following the awarding of security tenders worth R7 billion for government buildings.
Sibuyi was accused of awarding a three-year tender, amounting to about R1.2 billion, to GNT Security. The company allegedly did not have a valid tax clearance certificate.
GNT Security owner Vusi (Stevens) Mashaba was also arrested and charged. Both men were acquitted on June 19 2015 in the Nelspruit regional court because of lack of evidence.
By then, Sibuyi had been forced to resign as the head of department, even though the department itself had not laid any charges and did not believe he had done anything wrong.
“The department did not open a case against Sibuyi,” Mpumalanga safety and security spokesperson Joseph Mabuza said this week.
“The police conducted their own investigation and concluded that they had a case against him.”
In fact, the losing bidders tried fruitlessly to interdict the department from awarding the tenders, saying procedures had been flouted and the contracts given to KwaZulu-Natal businesses. The department won the case.
In papers filed with the High Court in Pretoria, Sibuyi argues that the police and the NPA obtained a warrant of arrest in an “irregular manner” because they were aware that no evidence of criminal wrongdoing existed against him.
His arrest, Sibuyi said, was unlawful as it was based on a defective and invalid warrant of arrest, which failed to reflect the offences on which it was issued. The NPA decided to prosecute him despite “the absence of any evidence of wrongdoing, thus acting in a manner that showed their recklessness”.
Sibuyi is claiming R15 million in general damages; R1.5 million for deprivation of freedom, trauma and stress; about R1 million for loss of income; R1 million for defamation; R452 000 for legal fees; and R2 250 for medical expenses.
Sibuyi’s attorney, Mduduzi Madonsela, said his client could not be linked to the charges as GNT was appointed by the department’s bid committees without his interference.
He said after the bid evaluation and adjudication committee’s recommendations, Sibuyi had even asked the state security agency to vet the security companies to ensure that they were above board. The agency found nothing wrong, and Sibuyi then appointed the companies recommended to him. Nhleko and Abrahams are defending the case. NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku said: “The state attorney has already filed the necessary papers in defence of the action. We do not comment on the merits of any matter that is subject to litigation.” Sandile Ngidi, Nhleko’s spokesperson, said: “Based on the facts at our disposal, Mr Sibuyi’s [charging] occurred because there was a reasonable suspicion that led to the arrest of the claimant. Nothing at all would suggest malice or an abuse of the law by the [police]. “While the minister fully respects the rights of all South Africans to challenge and expose allegations of abuse by the police, he nevertheless will always endeavour to stand ... with police officers who he genuinely believes acted within the law and without fear or favour in the execution of their duties.” Sibuyi said he would expose all the reasons behind his arrest in court. “I would like to know who this faceless complainant was. There are things I know now that influenced the decision to pursue me, and I will tell the truth. I won’t say more at this stage ... [which might] jeopardise my case.” Sibuyi is an attorney by training and has since gone back to legal practice.