- Former State Security Minister Bongani Bongo and his 11 co-defendants will be tried in November.
- They are accused of fraud and corruption, which amount to 74 million rand.
- All defendants are free on bail.
Former State Security Minister Bongani Bongo and his 11 co-defendants will face trial in November in a R74 million fraud and corruption case.
Bongo and his co-defendant made a brief appearance at the Nelspruit Commercial Crimes Court on Thursday for a pre-trial conference, National Prosecuting Authority regional spokeswoman Monica Nyuswa said.
Magistrate Deon van Rooyen postponed the case from November 8 to 25 for a trial in the same court.
All defendants are currently out on bail.
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Nyuswa said the state was ready to continue with the trial earlier this year, however, some of the defendants had changed legal representatives.
The defendants face 69 charges ranging from fraud, theft, bribery and violation of the Public Financial Management Act (PFMA).
They are Robert Barwise, Patrick Donald Chirwa, Harrington Sizwakhendaba Dhlamini, Blessing Mduduzi Singwane, David Boy Dube, Sipho Joel Bongo, Vusi Willem Magagula, Bongani Louis Henry Sibiya, Elmon Lawrence Mdaka, Sibongile Mercy Mdaka and Sandile Nkosi.
Little River Trading 156 (Pty) Ltd, Broad Markert Trading 204 (Pty) Ltd, Bongiveli CC and Pfuka Afrika CC are also charged.
The allegations relate to the R37.5 million sale and purchase of a farm in Naauwpoort, eMalahleni, by the Department of Human Settlements (DoHS), supposedly on behalf of the Municipality of eMalahleni.
It is alleged that some of the defendants, acting in concert with a common purpose, exploited the daily phenomenon of government land buying by misrepresenting facts to the ministry regarding the ownership and actual sale price of the farm.
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The true owner of the farm, Petrus Johannes van Tonder, received R15 million for the farm out of the R37.5 million.
Nyuswa said the balance of the money was then paid into the trust account of Singwane’s lawyers, in their capacity as agents appointed by the department.
Van Tonder then paid a commission of R1.5 million to Pam Golding as estate agent for the transaction.
Singwane paid 22.5 million rand to Little River Trading which allegedly allowed the defendant to successfully steal the money.
Nyuswa said it was not an instruction given by the department.
Meanwhile, in another transaction, Bongiveli has completed the sale and purchase agreement with Fremax Farms for part of Rietspruit for R10.5 million, however, the local municipality of Msukaligwa’s valuation for a part of the Rietspruit farm was R1.6 million.
In March 2011, the Department of Human Settlement paid over R52 million to Singwane.
Subsequently, the law firm provided Freemax with a guarantee of R15.6 million.
Ownership was then transferred to Bongiveli from Msukaligwa Municipality, and the company became the owner of the farm.
The farm was later sold back to the department for R32 million and fell under the municipality’s spatial development plan, and was therefore not classified for human settlements.
To date, it has not been proclaimed as a township.
Bongo was the head of the department’s legal section and of the committee appointed by the then HOD to negotiate the purchase of farms.
“He recommended the appointment of Singwane attorneys as transfer agents for the department in the purchase of these farms.
Singwane’s lawyers paid Bongo R1 million through his wife’s business account and additionally paid deposits for two vehicles registered in the name of his brother, Sipho Bongo,” Nyuswa added.
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