Pinnacle boss gets reprieve

2014-07-06 15:00

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The corruption case against Takalani Tshivhase, a director of the Pinnacle Technology Group, was postponed for the second time in the Pretoria Commercial Crimes Court this week to allow the state to consider his representations.

The case, which first came to light late in March after technology news website TechCentral revealed Tshivhase was arrested on March 5 at his offices in Kempton Park, east of Joburg, was first postponed to this week after he was initially charged in April.

Tshivhase stands accused of offering a R5?million bribe to Lieutenant Bonginkosi Solomon Ngubane, who previously headed the police’s technology management services, to ensure that Pinnacle won a lucrative tender for the supply of 3?200 field terminal devices.

The charge sheet details how Tshivhase allegedly made several attempts to meet with Ngubane, who finally agreed to meet him at the Sheraton Hotel in Pretoria.

There, Tshivhase allegedly made attempts to discuss the tender, but Ngubane urged him to attend the briefing session.

Another meeting took place at Montecasino, north of Joburg, where the bribe was allegedly offered.

The charge sheet’s disclosure form was blank this week, indicating that no documentary evidence was exchanged between the prosecution and the defence.

Asked if the Hawks, which conducted the investigation, had any evidence it could use against Tshivhase, spokesperson Paul Ramaloko said he was unable to discuss this in detail as the matter was before the court.

He said: “We do [have evidence]. That is why he had been charged and the matter is in court.”

He was tight-lipped on how many witnesses the state had gathered to testify against Tshivhase.

Tshivhase’s senior counsel, Mike Hellens, refused to speak to City Press. Tshivhase did not respond to questions.

Between Tshivhase’s arrest and the TechCentral exposé, Pinnacle did not inform shareholders, and its directors and affiliates off-loaded more than 1.4?million shares.

This has made them the subject of an investigation into insider trading by the Financial Services Board.

Tembisa Marele, the regulator’s spokesperson, said the probe was ongoing.

The state’s case

.?The police entered into a contract with IT company Unisys in 2010 for the supply of 1?000 Max ID terminals, which are used during field operations to verify fingerprints and establish if a person is wanted or not.

.?These cost the police R54?185.63 per unit.

.?Pinnacle Technology Holdings acted as a subcontractor for Unisys, hired to deliver 1?000 units.

.?There were problems with the operation of the units in terms of connectivity and additional software had to be bought to get them to work.

.?The police also found they were overcharged by as much as R31?000 per unit, as these were available for R26?214.30 each on the market.

.?In December 2012, an invitation for bids was published for the procurement of 3?200 new field terminal devices.

.?After allegedly requesting an extension of time to submit a bid on behalf of Pinnacle and asking for a meeting with Lieutenant Ngubane, Tshivhase told Ngubane at Montecasino that Pinnacle still had 3?000 Max ID terminals in stock. He allegedly offered him R5?million if he made sure police procured the remaining devices from Pinnacle.

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