Affidavit offers details of Mandela memorial ‘fraud’

2015-02-22 17:00

An East London businessman convicted of fraud has signed an explosive affidavit detailing how top ANC leaders allegedly colluded to cash in after former president Nelson Mandela died.

Mzwandile Sokwali and his wife, Busisiwe Boti, ran a company called Victory Ticket, which was paid nearly R6?million for transporting people to memorial services for Madiba across the Eastern Cape in December 2013.

Sokwali and Boti entered into a plea bargain with the state last year and asked to be tried separately from nine other accused in a fraud and money laundering case.

The couple pleaded guilty and, in December, Sokwali and Victory Ticket were found guilty. Boti was acquitted. Victory Ticket was fined R100?000 and Sokwali was given a five-year prison sentence, which was wholly suspended.

The other accused are Buffalo City Metro Mayor Zukiswa Ncitha, her deputy Temba Tinta, council speaker Luleka Simon-Ndzele, senior ANC councillor Sindiswa Gomba, director in the office of the mayor Ondela Mahlangu, and ANC regional secretary Phumlani Mkolo.

Business people Viwe Vazi, Zintle Nkuhlu and Deon Fanoe have also been charged.

Mkolo has emerged as the central figure in the alleged fraud in a tell-all signed affidavit leaked to City Press on Friday.

Mkolo’s phone went straight to voicemail when City Press called for comment, and he did not respond to SMSes. Last year, in his last response about the case to City Press, Mkolo said he did not want to comment because the issue was still before court.

Sokwali said in the affidavit he was phoned on December 6 2013 – just hours after Mandela’s death – by an employee at the ANC’s regional offices in the Buffalo City Metro.

The woman on the phone asked him to supply a quote for ferrying mourners to different venues around the Eastern Cape, and said this was on Mkolo’s instructions.

Sokwali alleges Mkolo himself then called, saying he had an “urgent transportation request” and wanted a quotation “urgently” so it could be given to the municipality.

Sokwali said in the affidavit that he phoned various taxi and bus operators, then submitted a quote of R6?272?750.

“I telephoned the regional secretary that same evening and furnished him with a verbal quotation for R6?272?750. He advised me that the available budget for the project was R10?million and that the ANC required the balance of the funds to finance other ANC activities,” Sokwali said in the affidavit.

“He asked me to prepare an amended quotation based on higher passenger numbers. He gave me amended passenger numbers, which I also jotted down on the itinerary.”

Armed with these new passenger numbers, Sokwali said he gave Mkolo a quote of R9?946?000. A “pleased” Mkolo asked Sokwali to submit a written quote to the municipality – but then it emerged that Victory Ticket wasn’t registered on its database.

Sokwali claims in his affidavit that Mkolo himself got the company on to the database in a matter of hours.

Sokwali also describes a December 9 meeting at the East London City Hall, attended by Simon-Ndzele, Gomba, Vazi and Mahlangu, where details of the “project” were discussed.

Here he claims he was told he would have to pay two companies – one for ANC T-shirts and another for catering – even though they weren’t reflected in his quotation.

His work started on December 10. One of the mourners he transported, he said in the affidavit, was former government minister Tokyo Sexwale.

Sokwali claimed in his affidavit that, after a few days, Mkolo asked him to submit an “interim invoice” for the work he had already done. He submitted an invoice for R7?760?000, but because it contained items related to work in Port Elizabeth – which had not yet been done – he was asked to amend it to R5?985?000.

Sokwali said he submitted a final invoice on December 13 and, the next day, just less than R6?million was paid into Victory Ticket’s account.

“I received a telephone call from [Mkolo],” Sokwali said in the affidavit. “He asked me to effect payment for the T-shirts and catering service providers in the amounts of R1?380?000 and R899?000, respectively.”

Later, he phoned Mkolo to ask about a night vigil that was due to be held at Sisa Dukashe Stadium in Mdantsane on December 14.

“[Mkolo] told me the event had been cancelled. He, however, told me that because the ANC required funds for future election purposes, Victory Ticket should invoice for the night vigil.”

He claims that Mkolo made “further demands of payments” over the next few days, “where [Mkolo] claimed he needed money for ANC activities”.

When the memorial services became the subject of a police investigation, Sokwali claims Mkolo asked him to compile a report saying all the money paid had been used to transport passengers.

The other accused are due in court on Wednesday in preparation for a trial date in April.

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