Big new kickback charges for Bongo
More damning allegations of corruption have been levelled against State Security Minister Bongani Bongo.
A forensic audit commissioned by a Special Investigating Unit team claims Bongo received R1.5-million to build a home in Nelspruit from the conveyancers in a R37.5million land deal funded by Mpumalanga’s human settlements department in 2011.
Bongo, appointed to the cabinet in President Jacob Zuma’s reshuffle last month, was the provincial department’s head of legal services at the time.
Last week the Sunday Times reported that the Hawks were investigating Bongo for buying a BMW X5 with the help of a R300 000 payment made by the same conveyancer, Singwane and Partners, on behalf of a company called Little River Trading.
This week it emerged that the company also paid R300 000 towards another vehicle used by Bongo, an Audi RS 5, on April 15 2011 — just one month before the BMW transaction. The audit report alleges that Bongo:
Received R1.5-million cash on May 13 2011, deposited by Singwane and Partners into the bank account of Nkgalema Properties, a company solely owned by his wife, Sandile Nkosi, and that the money was used to build a house in Nelspruit;
Received R300 000 cash on December 3 2011, deposited into the bank account of Nkgalema Properties;
Received R200 000 paid into the bank account of Peter Rosner, who was the builder of the Nelspruit house. Rosner died during a Hawks investigation into the matter;
Drove around in the Audi RS 5, which was registered in the name of his younger brother, Joel Bongo, as the BMW had been; and
Committed fraud by claiming over R20 000 in travel allowances, using the particulars of an old car he had sold.
The report supports the Sunday Times story last week about Bongo’s BMW X5. Mpumalanga businessman Harrington Dhlamini, a co-director of Little River Trading, contributed the R300 000 payment.
Little River Trading received R22.5-million from the R37.5-million land deal.
The car was also registered in Joel’s name, even though Bongo had traded in his old BMW towards paying for the X5, which was worth R1.3-million.
Hawks spokesman Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi last week confirmed to the Sunday Times that Bongo was under investigation by their officers.
A source close to the investigation said warrants of arrest had been issued for Bongo, Dhlamini, the other two directors of Little River Trading — Patrick Chirwa and Robert Burwise — and for Mduduzi Singwane of Singwane and Partners.
“A warning statement was taken from Bongo and the other co-accused in the matter in 2015,” the source said.
But another source said: “The Hawks investigators are sitting on those warrants for unknown reasons.” Mulaudzi said he could not comment on allegations from nameless sources.
The forensic audit also showed that the land for which the department paid R37.5million was actually worth only R15-million.
It states that on December 23 2010, the
department paid the money to Singwane and Partners which, in turn, paid R15-million to the landowner, Petrus van Tonder. Singwane and Partners paid the remaining R22.5-million to Little River Trading the same day.
Approached by the Sunday Times, Singwane said Little River Trading had entered into an agreement with Van Tonder “for land availability for purposes of developing a township. The body of the agreement indicates the obligation of the parties to each other and how payment should be distributed.” He refused to answer any direct questions.
The SIU forensic audit report also details how Singwane and Partners allegedly paid R1.5-million on May 13 2011 and R300 000 on December 3 2011 to Nkgalema Properties, a company owned by Nkosi, who the report describes as Bongo’s common-law wife.
Bongo’s spokesman, Brian Dube, referred questions to the minister’s former employer, the department of human settlements in Mpumalanga.
Referring to the allegations of travel allowance fraud, the department’s spokesman, Freddy Ngobe, said the only vehicle that was on the department’s system for Bongo was the vehicle that the audit report said he had sold.
Dhlamini said he could not recall the sequence of events, but he may have issued an instruction for payments to Joel Bongo.
“I was called by the SIU and they just gave me a piece of paper, they said they were investigating the issue of [the land deal], and asked how I got involved in the deal because there was money laundering.
“I gave them a signed statement,” said Dhlamini.
He also said he had appointed Joel to audit books for his company.
“I recall that Bongo’s brother is a chartered accountant. He was doing my books for quite some time . . . I don’t recall issuing an instruction that the money must be paid to BMW,” he said.
The house in Nelspruit that Bongani Bongo, above, allegedly paid for with the help of a kickback received from a law firm.