Net closes in on Malema

2012-03-24 15:42

The net is closing in on ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema and his business partners in Limpopo as state investigators intensify their probe into corruption and tender fraud.

A national anti-corruption task force – comprising the Hawks, tax ­investigators, asset forfeiture specialists, prosecutors and Treasury officials – is concluding its charges against Lesiba Gwangwa, Malema’s business partner, and senior Limpopo official James Masete.

City Press understands from two sources with knowledge of the details of the investigation that they are about to be charged with fraud, corruption and money laundering.

Malema could face similar charges thereafter.

This is likely to be the first in a series of fraud and corruption cases that will centre on how Malema, Gwangwa and their cronies allegedly looted state ­coffers through a network of politicians and influential officials.

Several other officials and politicians are also under investigation and more people are expected to be charged.

Earlier this month, investigators swooped on the Limpopo roads and transport department and seized ­computer hard drives, laptops and cellphones belonging to several officials, including to Masete.

Masete is the ­senior manager of ­supply chain in the department.

Investigators have allegedly unearthed incriminating evidence of communication between the officials and On-Point Engineers. Gwangwa is the sole director of ­On-Point and SGL Engineering Projects.

Malema’s Ratanang Family Trust, of which he and his grandmother are the only trustees and his son the only ­beneficiary, holds shares in On-Point and he became a director of SGL in 2009.

He resigned from SGL in 2010.

Last year City Press revealed the ­existence of the trust, which led to at least four investigations being initiated against Malema – by the Hawks, the Master of the High Court, the Public Protector and the South African Revenue Service.

On-Point and SGL have reportedly scored more than R400 million worth of known Limpopo municipal tenders since 2007.

In 2009, On-Point was paid R51 million to administer a programme management unit for roads and transport. The company got the contract only six months after it was registered.

It is apparently this contract – which allowed On-Point to participate in the awarding of tenders – that is the focus of the first set of charges against Malema, Gwangwa and Masete.

City Press understands that the ­Asset Forfeiture Unit is intimately ­involved in the investigation, and is ­preparing to seize assets belonging to both Malema and Gwangwa.

Gwangwa declined to comment this week, while Malema’s spokesperson, Floyd Shivambu, said: “We don’t ­comment on that. Goodbye.”

Hawks spokesperson McIntosh Polela said they would not give details on ongoing investigations.

“Investigations are not sport. As such, we do not give blow-by-blow ­updates,” he said.

Masete did not answer repeated calls to his phone at the Limpopo roads and transport department.

Malema has previously denied that he had any influence over On-Point’s operations and had exercised any ­influence over tender awards.

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