Former State Security Minister Bongani Bongo, along with 10 other people, is expected to make an appearance in the Nelspruit Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday, 28 October 2020, on fraud and corruption charges.
The Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigation (DPCI), also known as the Hawks, arrested Bongo on Tuesday, merely hours after chairing a virtual sitting of Parliament’s committee on home affairs.
The charges are in relation to suspicious land deals in the province, involving the human settlement department.
In February 2012, a complaint was made about the Msukaligwa Municipality, in Ermelo. It was alleged that the municipality had purchased a farm at an exceptionally inflated price – R36.4 million while the property was worth R11 million. The supposed plan was to develop a township at the time – however the department owned a farm that could have been used for the exact same purpose.
At the time, Bongo was the department’s head of legal services.
“Another whistle-blower alerted the investigators to two other deals involving two farms, a 70ha Malelane farm worth R44m that was allegedly sold to the municipality for R50m in 2011 and a 74.2ha Naauwpoort in Emalahleni worth R16m apparently sold for R37.5m,” said Hawks spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Philani Nkwalase said in a statement.
“The three farms’ combined value was about R70 million but through alleged collusion by the arrested suspects the Mpumalanga of Human Settlements Department suffered a total loss of just under R124m,”
Hawks spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Philani Nkwalase
Millions funnelled through companies
Nkwalase also said the money was channelled via five companies. An intricate paper trail was created including applications by the municipalities, valuation reports and internal correspondence to justify the deal.
Just like some of his fellow comrades, Bongo’s name has become synonymous with corruption. He is currently out on R5 000 bail on another corruption case. Bongo is accused of attempting to disrupt an Eskom parliamentary inquiry by offering a bribe to an evidence leader, back in October 2017.
The inquiry was looking into the extent of corruption and fraud that has plagued the embattled utility.
“The Bongani Bongo pretrial which was on a virtual platform this morning has been postponed to November 27 2020 for another pretrial conference to confirm a trial date,” said the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila.
“A provisional trial date has been set for February 15-26 2021.”
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