South Africa: Mashaba Seeks Meeting With New NPA Head Batohi

10 December 2018

Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba would like to meet with the newly appointed NPA head Shamila Batohi once she assumes her office next year.

Mashaba is seeking intervention from Batohi to deal with alleged corruption and fraud cases that the City has opened against individuals linked to the municipality.

Mashaba said Carte Blanche had aired an exposé on Sunday night about rampant corruption uncovered by the municipality and the baffling decisions of the NPA to withdraw clear-cut, prosecutable cases.

"On numerous occasions, the City has sought to engage the NPA to raise our concern on the apparent lack of attention paid to fraud and corruption matters referred to it by the City. So far, these engagements have yielded poor results," he said.

Mashaba listed a case opened against a former candidate valuer, Mbali McClare, who was arrested for allegedly deliberately undervaluing 22 properties in the city, amounting to just under R500m. The case was withdrawn by the NPA late last month.

"This is one of a number of slam-dunk cases investigated by the City's Group Forensic Investigations Services, headed by Shadrack Sibiya, one of country's top law enforcement officials.

"Another case which illustrates the NPA's inability to prosecute serious criminality was the withdrawal of the case against the directors of Setheo Engineering," Mashaba said.

Two directors from Setheo Engineering were arrested in 2017 after they allegedly colluded with City Power officials and received payments exceeding R66m for work that was never completed in the building of the Eldorado Park sub-station.

"They had secured the contract, issued under the previous administration, through a fraudulent bank guarantee which led the City to believe that they had the balance sheet to handle the project," he said.

Case withdrawn

Earlier this year, charges against former member of the mayoral committee (MMC) of housing, Dan Bovu, were withdrawn.

Bovu was accused of allegedly selling government land to people within the municipality.

According to Mashaba, Bovu's case was provisionally withdrawn from the roll because material witnesses were no longer prepared to testify, after they were allegedly paid money.

"Rather than pressing further charges for defeating the ends of justice, corruption and witness interference, the NPA saw fit to provisionally withdraw the case from the roll.

"It is astounding to the City that justice is not served in the vast number of cases which the City has handed over to law enforcement authorities. This is not only a miscarriage of justice for the City, but also for the law abiding and hardworking residents of Johannesburg," Mashaba said.

He added that amaBhungane had uncovered evidence which conclusively showed how former MMC for finance Geoff Makhubo and former mayor Parks Tau had allegedly orchestrated a windfall of at least R30m for Makhubo by allowing him to unduly act as broker for Regiments Fund Managers, giving the fund managers unfettered access to lucrative deals within the City.

"According to the report by amaBhungane, documents show that Regiments agreed to pay 10% of its fees to Makhubo's company, Molelwane Consulting, in exchange for Makhubo's "maintenance of strategic relationships with the COJ [City of Johannesburg]".

"This meant that Makhubo, who was tasked with exercising political oversight on one of the City's largest contracts, was also unlawfully benefiting from the very same contract."

Mashaba is expected to lay charges of fraud, corruption, money laundering and racketeering against Tau and Makhubo at the Johannesburg Central Police Station on Monday.

He said the municipality was currently at an advanced stage of conducting its own forensic investigation into this matter, the evidence of which would be handed over to the investigating officer.

"Ultimately, we have every faith the evidence so far collected will be sufficient to secure a conviction. However, given the current withdrawal of numerous of our cases, the City is deeply concerned by the NPA's capacity to effectively prosecute this matter.

"Every cent lost to corruption means less services for our residents. We cannot allow criminals to continue to go unpunished as they rob our residents. That is why it is essential that all these cases are effectively prosecuted," he continued.

Source: News24

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