Big new kick­back charges for Bongo

Sunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - By TOM NKOSI and MZILIKAZI wa AFRIKA

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.

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