Suspended official’s lease claims rejected

2012-07-07 17:00

Judge says Vukela has ‘no interest’ in the case

A public works official who insisted in an affidavit that a R500-million police lease deal in Pretoria was valid has been kicked into touch by the North Gauteng High Court.

Sam Vukela, who was acting director–general in the department before his suspension last September, filed a supplementary affidavit to the court.

A supplementary affidavit is an additional affidavit or subsequent affidavit in addition to the original one.

In it, Vukela contradicted the department by saying the R500 million Middestad lease deal was valid.

The controversy around the lease deal has led to the axing of former public works ministers Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde, Geoff Doidge and ex-national police commissioner Bheki Cele.

The supplementary affidavit may still find its way into the court battle between the department – which wants the court to nullify the deal – and businessman Roux Shabangu.

Shabangu’s company was awarded the controversial contract in 2010 for his Middestad building in central Pretoria to be used as police headquarters.

North Gauteng High Court Judge Eberhard Bertelsmanndismissed Vukela’s supplementary affidavit and ordered him to pay all legal costs.

Judge Bertelsmann said Vukela – who was suspended a month after filing the department’s founding affidavit – did not have the right to be heard by the court as he had no interest in the outcome of the lease deal case.

Bertelsmann disagreed with the “unusual” manner in which Vukela filed the supplementary affidavit without the department’s approval.

Vukela insists he tried many times to inform the state attorney’s office and both former minister Mahlangu-Nkabinde and her replacement, Thulas Nxesi, that he would file the papers in court.

“It is common cause that the deponent (Vukela) to the supplementary affidavit is not, cannot be and does not intend to become a party to the principal proceedings (between the department and Shabangu).

This status disentitles him from participation in the fray,” said Bertelsmann.

Vukela was suspended by ­Mahlangu-Nkabinde after being accused of maladministration, financial misconduct and poor management.

Vukela claimed in his affidavit that Mahlangu-Nkabinde and state attorneys disregarded information which he said might prove the lease agreement was valid.

Vukela’s version of events, the judge ruled, was “clearly aimed at blaming” Mahlangu-Nkabinde for his suspension and this was ­“irrelevant, vexatious and liable to be struck out on that ground”.

He said if Vukela’s version was of any importance to either the department or Shabangu they could introduce the statement in court in the “usual fashion”.

Vukela’s lawyer, Themba Langa, said he and his client would approach Nxesi again to grant Vukela permission to resubmit the supplementary affidavit.

Langa said the judgment was “unfortunate” and presented a “distorted picture”.

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