KZN ANC bigwigs nabbed by the Hawks
Paddy Harper, City Press
Durban - The Hawks have arrested KwaZulu-Natal Economic Development MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu and the province’s speaker, Peggy Nkonyeni, in connection with the R44m "Amigos" fraud, corruption and money laundering case.
On Thursday the two were quietly fingerprinted, charged, issued with warning statements to appear in court tomorrow, and released after negotiations between their lawyers and the Hawks.
The clandestine arrests took place in terms of the controversial warrants issued against them by Simphiwe Mlotshwa, provincial director of public prosecutions, allegedly on the instructions of National Director of Public Prosecutions Menzi Simelane several weeks ago.
The two, who have both occupied the post of ANC KZN treasurer, are also the target of an impending asset forfeiture application, which City Press understands will be brought by the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) in coming weeks.
Two new accused, ANC bookkeeper Delani Mzila and former KZN health department head Dr Ronald Green-Thompson, are set to join the original accused – who include Uruguayan businessman Gaston Savoi; former KZN treasury boss Sipho Shabalala and his wife, Ntombi; and former health boss Busi Nyembezi – in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg on Monday.
The case will then be adjourned and a date set for trial and the serving of an indictment, which can only be finalised when a forensic report by curator Trevor White is tabled in court.
White refused to discuss the report.
Controversy has dogged the Nkonyeni and Mabuyakhulu warrants since they were issued and the news leaked to the media.
City Press is advised by a reliable source close to the investigation that there was significant disagreement between Simelane and prosecutors as to whether there was a winnable case against Nkonyeni and Mabuyakhulu.
It appears that warrants against the two were previously withdrawn, only to be re-issued later.
Also, there is allegedly some disagreement as whether there is enough evidence to seize their assets.
The behind-the-scenes battle in the NPA is apparently part of tensions between Simelane and AFU head Willie Hofmeyr, who is himself the target of charges laid by billionaire fraud accused Dave King, which Simelane referred to the police.
Simelane’s spokesperson, Mthunzi Mhaga and Hawks spokesperson McIntosh Polela, were both unaware of the arrests, while Mlotshwa referred City Press to the investigating officer, Lieutenant Colonel Piet du Plooy, who was unavailable.
Mhaga refused to discuss the internal NPA battle over the case.
Simelane and Hofmeyr were scheduled to discuss the matter with Justice Minister Jeff Radebe as part of a discussion around the tensions between the two on Friday, but the meeting was postponed.
Both the ANC and the KZN provincial government are set to support Mabuyakhulu and Nkonyeni in court on Monday.