Lawyer appears on graft charges

2013-03-04 13:40

The lawyer of one of the accused in the Mbombela Stadium tender corruption case appeared in court for the first time today on related charges.

Michael Ramanos is one of four men arrested by the Hawks on Friday as his client, Chris Grip, was appearing on another fraud charge involving R143 million.

Today’s case, also related to the R1.2 billion Mbombela Stadium, was postponed to next month because the defence team had not received documents to prepare.

Kaizer Chiefs boss Bobby Motaung, his business partner at Lefika Emerging Equity, Herbert Theledi, company chief executive officer Grip and Ramanos, appeared today on new charges of fraud, corruption and contravention of the Municipal Finance Management Act to the value of R920 million.

They appeared alongside former Mbombela municipal manager Jacob Dladla and former Ehlanzeni district technical manager Tebogo Kubeka, who were charged last year.

State prosecutor Advocate Patrick Nkuna said he would provide all documents to the defence team on April 15. The case will resume in the Nelspruit regional court on April 22.

However, the defence team complained that Nkuna said they should collect documents from the investigating officer instead of the National Prosecuting Authority.

“The standard procedure is that we should get documents from the prosecutor. We insist that we should get them from (Nkuna) because we might get an incomplete bundle from the investigating officer,” argued Motaung’s lawyer, Zola Majavu.

The court agreed that the defence could get the documents on April 15.

Ramanos was arrested on the new charges because he was Lefika’s compliance officer when the company was allegedly involved in the irregular appointment of Mbombela Stadium Joint Venture (MSJV), a partnership between Basil Read and French firm Bouygues Construction, for the stadium’s construction.

Lefika is accused of appointing MSJV, which was the responsibility of the Mbombela municipality, misrepresenting facts and failing to declare that they had a previous business relationship with the joint venture.

Dladla allegedly replaced Mbombela’s supply chain management staff with Lefika officials to change decisions of the municipality’s bid evaluation and adjudication committees.

It remains to be seen what Ramanos will do because the defence argues that the two cases are related and should be handled as one.

Hawks spokesperson Captain Paul Ramoloko said police had completed 80% of the investigation.

Meanwhile, Motaung, Theledi and Grip will appear on the initial charges on April 22.

They are accused of using a false tax certificate when they bid to get the tender to design the Mbombela stadium, forging a Mbombela council letter with a fake signature of former Mbombela municipal manager Sgananda Siboza to get a R1-million overdraft from a bank and and theft of R143 million.

The Mbombela Stadium corruption is believed to have caused the assassination of former Mbombela council speaker Jimmy Mohlala at his home in KaNyamazane on January 5 2009.

Mohlala was due to lay criminal charges before his death. Police have not yet found his killers.

Although Dladla was fired after a disciplinary hearing on the irregularities in 2009, the ANC-led Mbombela council took a resolution to clear him of the charges last year and paid him a golden handshake of about R2 million.

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