DD Mabuza slams attempts to 'drag his name' into Mpumalanga fraud case

DD Mabuza slams attempts to 'drag his name' into Mpumalanga fraud case

Deputy President David Mabuza has distanced himself from any involvement in the fraud, corruption, theft and money laundering which allegedly took place in his home province.

“While the deputy president confirms that the reported alleged events fall under the period that he was serving as premier of Mpumalanga, he would like to categorically deny any involvement and condemn any attempt to drag his name in any form or capacity into the criminal conduct under investigation,” said Mabuza's office on Wednesday.

The office said it had noted media reports on the arrest of about 11 people, including former state security minister and ANC MP Bongani Bongo, for alleged fraud that is said to have taken place during 2011 and 2012.

Matshepo Seedat, a media liaison officer in Mabuza's office, said the deputy president was not aware of any investigation into him, as had been alluded to in the media. However, he said the deputy president would co-operate with law-enforcement agencies as he was provincial premier at the time.

The deputy president welcomed the progress made by the Special Investigating Unit into the Mpumalanga human settlements land procurement issue.

“We welcome progress that law-enforcement agencies continue to make in the fight against corruption,” Mabuza was quoted as saying.

Bongo and 10 others appeared before the Nelspruit magistrate's court on charges of corruption, fraud, theft, money laundering and contravention of the Public Finance Management Act on Wednesday.

The allegations are in connection with the R37.5m sale and purchase of a farm in Naauwpoort, Emalahleni, by the Mpumalanga department of human settlement, ostensibly on behalf of Emalahleni municipality, said the National Prosecuting Authority's Sipho Ngwema.

“Some of the accused, acting in concert and with common purpose, exploited the normal phenomenon of purchase of land by the government by misrepresenting facts to the state regarding ownership and true sale price,” said Ngwema.

He said the real owner of the farm, Petrus Johannes Van Tonder, was paid only R15m for the farm from the R37.5m and the money was paid into the trust account of Singwane Attorneys, in their capacity as the conveyancer appointed by the department.

Van Tonder paid R1.5m commission to Pam Golding as estate agents for the transaction and Singwane, not instructed by the department, paid R22.5m to Little River Trading, which, Ngwema said, enabled the accused to successfully steal the money.

In another transaction, Bongiveli entered into a sale and purchase agreement with Fremax Farms for a portion of Rietspruit, for R10.5m.

However, Msukaligwa local municipality's valuation of the portion of the Rietspruit farm was R1.6m.

Ngwema claimed that Little River paid R1.5m as a deposit for the farm and Bongiveli had to deliver a guarantee issued by a bank or financial institution for payment of the balance of the purchase price on or before May 31, 2011.

“In turn, some of the accused, as members of Pfuka Afrika CC, received commission of R4.5m.”

The NPA claims that in March 2011 the provincial department of human settlements, Msukaligwa municipality and Bongiveli entered into a sale and purchase agreement for Rietspruit farm.

When the sale and purchase agreement was signed, Bongiveli was not the owner of the farm and there was no departmental approval to purchase the farm. The Msukaligwa local municipality valuation of the portion of the Rietspruit farm was R1.6m.

It is alleged that some of the accused received kickbacks including cash and cars from some of the entities involved in the transactions.