How Pule Mabe spent welfare millions

2014-05-25 15:00

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Newly sworn-in ANC MP Pule Mabe shelled out welfare money to political allies and used it to repay his credit card debt.

A forensic report compiled by investigators working for the Anti-Corruption Task Team and the Special Investigating Unit reveals how Mabe, his business partner and associates spent money from the social responsibility fund of the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa).

Chunks of the R2.2?million were spent on luxuries like clothing at high-end boutiques and home-theatre equipment, as well as everyday items such as groceries at Checkers and hardware supplies at Builders Warehouse.

The forensic report, a copy of which City Press has ­exclusively obtained, forms the foundation of the state’s case against Mabe, his business partner Surprise Ramosa and former Sassa spokesperson Paseka Letsatsi.

The three have yet to plead to the charges, which include fraud, theft and money laundering.

After their last court appearance on Monday last week, the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court in Pretoria ­postponed the case until August to allow time for their lawyers to make representations to the state regarding the charges they face.

The money was spent between September and ­December 2008, when Mabe was treasurer-general of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL).

The report confirms that Mabe also gave his old ­colleague, former Youth League spokesperson Floyd ­Shivambu, R30?000 of the money in two R15?000 cheques in October 2008.

Shivambu, the political commissar of the Economic Freedom Fighters, who was also sworn in as a member of Parliament this week, has previously denied receiving any of the money from Mabe.

This week, Shivambu could not be reached for ­comment.

Last November, Shivambu called a report in Sunday World referring to the R30?000 “not true”.

Shivambu said in his statement then that the police case against Mabe did not “mention my name as a beneficiary of the ‘stolen’ millions”.

“The police case does not in any way suggest that I ­received R30?000 from Pule Mabe, including from the R100?000 of the ‘stolen’ money he paid to the ANC Youth League account.”

Shivambu also said then that he could retrieve online bank statements that would confirm he had never received a R30?000 payment from Mabe.

The report shows that the alleged money laundering ­operation began in September 2008 after a purported charity, called the Consolidated Future Growth and Investments Foundation (CFGIF), approached Sassa for R2.2?million on behalf of a group calling itself the Progressive Young Women’s Cooperative.

In their letter to Sassa, the CFGIF proposed to perform work on its behalf, including adult basic education ­programmes, welfare beneficiary surveys and beneficiary ­education. The money was paid into the accounts of three ­companies: Surprise SK, Bollanoto Investment Holdings and Consolidated Communications Investment Holdings.

R1.5?million of that amount was transferred to Mabe’s ­company, KP Project Management.

The report found that, of that amount, R681?000 made it into Mabe’s personal bank accounts, R25?500 was spent on cellphone bills, R292?068 was paid to a company “linked to” Ramosa, R28?200 was paid to ANCYL official Dodo Mushwana and R30?000 went to Shivambu.

Aside from the money they transferred to Mabe’s company, Surprise SK received about R300?000, of which over R41?000 was drawn in cash, R16?600 was spent on purchases at high-end men’s boutiques Vigano and Cavallo, and R15?000 was spent on home-theatre equipment.

Bollanoto spent R200?000 of its share on car rental, R13?000 on house rental and, together with Consolidated Communications, spent R20?000 on airtime and shopping at Spar, Mr Price, Clicks, Checkers, Builders Warehouse, Cash Converters and Fruit & Veg City.

The charge sheet before the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court says the R2.2?million was released from ­Sassa without the correct procedure being followed. Sassa ­officials also allegedly did not check whether the work they paid for had been done.

The CFGIF, the charity that asked for the money in the first place, also had no bank account and only opened one in March 2010 – long after the money had been spent. When the account was eventually opened, Mabe was the sole signatory.

Mabe, Ramosa and Letsatsi are out on bail of R10?000 each.

In an email, Mabe, who was 53rd on the ANC’s national list, declined to comment on the merits of the case, but said he was “encouraged by the resolve of our movement, the ANC”, which believed, like the Constitution, that individuals are innocent until proven guilty.

“I believe in the rule of law and the ability of our courts to contribute towards upholding law and order in society. I have consistently expressed commitment towards resolutions of the ANC and, in this instance, should I be found wanting, I will do what the organisation requires of me, which is to step down from all leadership responsibilities, both in our movement, the ANC, and broadly in society [if found guilty],” he wrote.

“The leadership collective of the ANC, which I am part of, made a commitment to South Africans during the electioneering period to step the fight up against corruption. I have pledged my allegiance to this undertaking unconditionally.”

Victor Nkhwashu, Mabe and Ramosa’s attorney, said: “As you are aware, the matter is sub judice and therefore our ­version can only be disclosed to the court. Our clients remain innocent until the legal process is concluded.”

Contacted on Wednesday, Letsatsi’s lawyer, Zola Majavu, failed to comment on the contents of the forensic report.

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