Corruption accused Gaston Savoi fires back at Simelane

2011-09-03 18:39

Corruption accused Gaston Savoi has hit back at chief prosecutor Menzi Simelane for making comments that are “wrong in fact and in law”.

Simelane told City Press last week that some of his staff might have been involved in underhand dealings with Savoi by assisting him to do business in Angola.

Savoi, a Uruguayan businessman, is accused of bribing senior ANC politicians, including ANC Northern Cape chairperson John Block and KwaZulu-Natal MEC for economic development Mike Mabuyakhulu. Simelane accused the suspended head of the Asset Forfeiture Unit in ­KwaZulu-Natal, Knorx Molelle, of cutting a deal with Savoi that would have allowed him to travel to Angola.

This, according to Simelane, could have led to Savoi escaping from South Africa.

Savoi sells water purification plants to governments.

This week Savoi’s attorney, George van Niekerk, told City Press that Simelane’s colleagues in both KwaZulu-Natal and the Northern Cape had concluded that Savoi was not intending to travel to Angola to evade his trial or flee the country.

“This is also the view of the investigating officers, who know much more about the facts of the matter than Mr Simelane.”

The magistrates’ court in Kimberley and the regional court in Pietermaritzburg have ruled that Savoi was not a flight risk and should be permitted to travel abroad.

“Why Mr Simelane asserts otherwise in the absence of any facts to support his supposition is bewildering,” said the lawyer.

More disconcerting, he said, was the fact that Simelane “does not share any information he may have with his staff, with the police or indeed with the courts”.

Last week in the Northern Cape High Court, the provincial director of public prosecutions, advocate Pule Tshweu, stated “repeatedly and emphatically” that the state did not regard Savoi as a flight risk.

Van Niekerk said Simelane’s criticism of Molelle was “unfounded”.

“The decision in Pietermaritzburg whether Savoi should travel abroad was made by the deputy director of public prosecution in KwaZulu-Natal, advocate Nledile Dunywa, and not by (Molelle).”

“It is correct, however, that Molelle agreed with his colleagues that Savoi should be permitted to travel abroad.”

Van Niekerk denied Simelane’s claims that Savoi had more assets outside of South Africa than inside.

Asked to comment on Savoi’s reaction, Simelane’s spokesperson, Mthunzi Mhaga, said the National Prosecuting ­Authority would allow “internal processes and court processes” to run their course.

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