Mrs Zuma drops shady business partner

2012-09-01 18:48

First Lady Tobeka Madiba Zuma says she was unaware of her business partner’s pending corruption case when they registered three companies in March this year.

Had she known about the charges former South African Revenue Service (Sars) senior executive Mandisa Mokwena was facing, she would not have gone into business with her.

City Press can reveal that Madiba Zuma is currently registered as a director of three private companies that include Mokwena as a director.

Mokwena was arrested in 2009 for allegedly defrauding Sars to the tune of R11 million by handing out training tenders to her friends.

Mokwena’s spouse is Barnard Mokwena, the executive vice-president of human capital and external affairs at Lonmin. He was Lonmin’s spokesperson during the recent events at its Marikana mine.

He was also charged with money laundering in his wife’s case, but charges against him were withdrawn in March this year.

Madiba Zuma tells City Press none of the three companies have any investments or have traded since inception.

“I was introduced to Dr (Mandisa) Mokwena by my fellow director (Lindani Sigxashe), who proposed that she would be able to assist in the commercial and administration aspects of the businesses. She (Mokwena) was not known to me before this,” Madiba Zuma says.

The first lady says she was not aware of the charges Mokwena was facing at the time she became a director “or until very recently”.

Asked whether it would be proper for a first lady to be in business with an alleged fraudster, Madiba Zuma says: “I agree it would not be appropriate”.

Shortly after she became aware of the pending charges against Mokwena and her ten fellow accused, Madiba Zuma says Mokwena “proposed to resign her directorships ... her resignation has been accepted and will be registered in due course”.

Madiba Zuma says there was “no relationship” between the Zumas and the Mokwenas.

According to Sars spokesperson Adrian Lackay, Mokwena – a former head of risk management with Sars – resigned in December 2009 after internal charges were levelled against her.

She and her fellow accused will go on trial on October 15 in the North Gauteng High Court.

Although “proceeds of crime” were deposited into Barnard Mokwena’s bank account, he provided the state with a “justifiable explanation” that led to the withdrawal of charges, Lackay said.

The charge sheet against Mandisa Mokwena claims she corruptly received R977 000 and assistance from former Unisa and University of Venda academics with her doctoral studies.

In turn, she allegedly awarded them Sars training tenders.

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