Hawks gun for spy boss

CityPress - - Front Page - S’THEMBILE CELE and SIZWE SAMA YENDE news@city­press.co.za

Newly ap­pointed State Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter Bongani Bongo is un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion for al­leged cor­rupt land trans­ac­tions dur­ing his time as le­gal ad­viser in the Mpumalanga pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment.

The probe cov­ers the al­legedly sus­pi­cious pur­chase of a BMW by Bongo’s brother us­ing money from a con­veyancer. Only Bongani Bongo used the car.

City Press has seen a let­ter in which act­ing Hawks head Yolisa Matakata up­dates Po­lice Min­is­ter Fik­ile Mbalula about the probe, which names Bongo as one of the im­pli­cated peo­ple.

As Mpumalanga hu­man set­tle­ments depart­ment le­gal ad­viser, Bongo was re­spon­si­ble for draft­ing the con­tracts for the pur­chase of Ri­et­spruit farm (Ermelo), Por­tion 156 of the farm Male­lane and Naauw­poort (Emalahleni). They were col­lec­tively sold for mil­lions more than their ac­tual price.

The let­ter, which im­pli­cates Bongo, was signed seven days af­ter Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma reshuf­fled his Cab­i­net on Oc­to­ber 17, pro­mot­ing the ANC back­bencher to the cru­cial port­fo­lio of state se­cu­rity.

In the let­ter, Matakata tells Mbalula that Bongo drafted the con­tracts for the pur­chase of the three farms. Pay­ments to buy the prop­er­ties were signed off with­out ad­her­ing to the clause in the con­tracts that stip­u­late that money must be paid once the re­quired pa­per­work has been fi­nalised.

“Cell­phone records also indi­cate that Bongo in­structed the Emalahleni mu­nic­i­pal man­ager to sign the pur­chase of the farm be­fore the land had been ac­quired by the mu­nic­i­pal­ity,” Matakata writes.

“Dur­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion it was dis­cov­ered that an amount of R300 000 was chan­nelled from the Sing­wane trust ac­count, the con­veyancer, to BMW Sand­ton as the de­posit for the BMW which was reg­is­tered in the name of Joel Bongo, who is the brother of Bongani Bongo.

“Upon in­ves­ti­ga­tion it was dis­cov­ered that the same ve­hi­cle was used by Bongani Bongo.

“Tracker records re­vealed that the same ve­hi­cle was used en­tirely by Bongani Bongo from his house in Nel­spruit to his place of work.

“He used the car as his and claimed for [trav­elled] kilo­me­tres from hu­man re­sources of the depart­ment of hu­man set­tle­ments”, Matakata ex­plains.

The Hawks in­ves­ti­ga­tion fo­cuses on three parcels of land the Mpumalanga depart­ment of hu­man set­tle­ments pur­chased on be­half of the Msukaligwa, Nko­mazi and Emalahleni mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties for township de­vel­op­ment, at in­flated prices, in 2011.

The 414-hectare Ri­et­spruit was val­ued at R11.9 mil­lion, but the depart­ment bought it for R36.4 mil­lion. The value of the 70 ha Male­lane farm was R41 mil­lion, but the depart­ment spent R50 mil­lion on it. The 74.2ha Naauw­poort was val­ued at

R2.1 mil­lion, but the depart­ment bought it for an astro­nom­i­cal R37.5 mil­lion.

The three farms cost the Mpumalanga hu­man set­tle­ments depart­ment a to­tal of R123.9 mil­lion.

Hawks spokesper­son Bri­gadier Hang­wani Mu­laudzi con­firmed to City Press that an in­ves­ti­ga­tion was un­der way. “We are not at lib­erty to dis­cuss the sta­tus of the case. Once the in­ves­ti­ga­tions have been fi­nalised, and as the per the nor­mal pro­ce­dure, the case will be taken to the NPA for a de­ci­sion.”

Pros­e­cu­tors Jan Fer­reira and Ger­ald van der Eerde had been as­signed to the mat­ter, Matakata writes.

Mu­laudzi con­firmed the let­ter was sent, say­ing that it was part of in­ter­nal pro­cesses.

“There is noth­ing wrong with in­form­ing the min­is­ter of po­lice. The let­ter is part of our own in­ter­nal pro­to­cols to ap­prise the of­fice of the min­is­ter about in­ves­ti­ga­tions.”

Matakata states in the let­ter that the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the land deals is on­go­ing. Warn­ing state­ments have been ob­tained from “pos­si­ble sus­pects” in­clud­ing Bongo, for­mer Mpumalanga hu­man set­tle­ments head David Dube, con­veyancer Mduduzi Sing­wane and di­rec­tors of Lit­tle Trad­ing 156 (Pty) Ltd.

Lit­tle Trad­ing – owned by town planners Pa­trick Chirwa, Har­ring­ton Dh­lamini and Robert Bur­wise – fa­cil­i­tated the pur­chase of Naauw­poort. For the Ri­et­spruit and Male­lane farms, the pur­chase was fa­cil­i­tated by Bon­giveli CC.

State Se­cu­rity spokesper­son Brian Dube said Bongo con­ducted him­self “law­fully in keep­ing with the poli­cies of the depart­ment”. Dube said Bongo was un­aware of any “law­ful in­ves­ti­ga­tion” against him.

“As re­gards mat­ters con­cerned with other en­ti­ties and or in­di­vid­u­als and how they con­ducted them­selves, [Bongo] ad­vises that same can­not be asked of him and refers you to them,” he said.

Matakata says one of the three farms the depart­ment pur­chased was bought for R36 mil­lion, even though it had been val­ued at R11 mil­lion. Here, she was ap­par­ently re­fer­ring to Ri­et­spruit.

At­tempts to get com­ment from Dh­lamini and Bur­wise proved fruit­less as their cell­phones rang unan­swered. They did not re­spond to text mes­sages. Chirwa an­swered but dropped the call and there­after did not an­swer his cell­phone. Sing­wane de­nied hav­ing done any­thing un­to­ward.

“I gave a state­ment to the po­lice to ex­plain that, af­ter the trans­fer of the land has taken place, the seller has own­er­ship of the money. The sell­ers tells you, as the con­veyancer, what hap­pens with the money. An is­sue can arise when the seller says the con­veyancer robbed him,” he said.

Bongo was among se­nior hu­man set­tle­ments of­fi­cials who Mpumalanga pre­mier David Mabuza re­moved from the depart­ment in 2012. Mabuza placed Bongo in the in­tegrity man­age­ment unit in his of­fice. Dube’s con­tract was not re­newed.

Mabuza’s spokesper­son, Zi­bonele Mncwango, said Bongo’s re­moval had noth­ing to do with the dodgy deals, but was due to “stag­na­tion” in the roll-out of RDP houses.

“There was noth­ing sin­is­ter with the trans­fer. It was based on a com­pre­hen­sive eval­u­a­tion of the gov­ern­ment work,” Mncwango said.

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