Simelane’s Savoi shocker

2011-08-27 15:02

South Africa’s chief prosecutor Menzi Simelane has dropped a bombshell by claiming some of his staff may have been involved in underhanded dealings with corruption-accused Gaston Savoi.

In an exclusive interview with City Press this week, Simelane slammed the “bullsh*t argument” of his colleagues in KwaZulu-Natal who allowed Savoi’s bail conditions to be relaxed for him to travel to Angola.

Savoi, an Uruguayan businessman, is accused of bribing senior ANC politicians and civil servants in KwaZulu-Natal and the Northern Cape in exchange for multimillion-rand water purification tenders.

Some of the politicians implicated in these cases are ANC Northern Cape chairperson John Block, KwaZulu-Natal MEC for economic development Mike Mabuyakhulu and provincial ANC treasurer Peggy Nkonyeni.

Simelane lashed out against the suspended head of the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) in KwaZulu-Natal, Knorx Molelle, for allegedly cutting deals with Savoi to visit Angola.

According to Simelane, he was out of the country when Savoi applied to the courts in July to have his bail conditions relaxed.

“I received an SMS from another senior official to draw my attention to this. I enquired why it happened and it turned out that the AFU had agreed on an arrangement with Savoi to go to Angola to conclude a business deal,” said Simelane.

“If he was able to make money out of the deal he would come back to South Africa and forfeit some of the money. I became very concerned. I said this was an attempt by Savoi to run away.”

According to Simelane, at the time of his arrest Savoi said he was in the process of concluding a deal in Angola.

“He said he would like an opportunity to complete the deal but his bail conditions precluded him from travelling,” said Simelane.

Molelle and the AFU in KwaZulu-Natal were persuaded by Savoi’s argument, Simelane said.

“That’s a bullsh*t argument. You can’t have somebody with more assets outside the country than in the country telling you he is going to leave the country and come back. I said we should oppose that arrangement – that arrangement can never be in the public interest.”

In the end Savoi couldn’t travel because court proceedings in the Northern Cape to relax his bail conditions had not been finalised by the time he wanted to visit Angola.

Because of this incident Simelane stripped Molelle of his powers to negotiate such arrangements with accused persons.

Shortly thereafter Molelle was suspended for allegedly “conducting private business activities without approval”.

Molelle did not respond to messages left for him this week.

» Follow Simelane on Twitter @simelaneme and City Press @city_press

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