ANC heavyweights freed on R100 000 bail

2011-08-02 00:00

BAIL of R100 000 each secured the release yesterday of Tourism and Economic Development MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu and Legislature Speaker Peggy Nkonyeni, while retired head of KZN’s Health Department, Ronald Green-Thompson was released on R40 000 bail.

The trio were the latest additions to a 72-page indictment presented to defence teams by the state yesterday detailing 54 charges of racketeering, fraud, corruption, money laundering and contraventions of the public finance management act against 23 accused including five companies.

The list includes wealthy Cape businessman Gaston Savoi, former KZN department head Busisiwe Nyembezi and former provincial treasury head Sipho Shabalala, nicknamed “amigos” by the media — the term they used in personal SMSes to each other.

The charges relate to allegedly corrupt tenders awarded for the purchase and hire of water purification plants (Watakas) and oxygen generating equipment (Oxyntakas) supplied by Savoi’s company, Intaka, to the health service between 2004 and 2007.

Mabuyakhulu is cited as then MEC for local government, traditional affairs and housing, Nkonyeni as former KZN health MEC and Green-Thompson as the head of the KZN Health Department.

While Mabuyakhulu, Nkonyeni and Green-Thompson appeared separately for bail proceedings before magistrate Reard Abrahams, the other accused waited their turn in the regional court where they later appeared before regional magistrate Chris van Vuuren and were also served with indictments.

Armed police strictly controlled access to the courtroom ahead of Mabuyakhulu, Nkonyeni and Green-Thompson’s appearance, only allowing 40 people into the public gallery.

Lawyers, the media, politicians, the accused’s supporters and family members crammed the benches and lined the walls and floor of the court while photographers and cameramen took their shots ahead of the magistrate’s entry, which was delayed for some time by a faulty recording machine.

State advocate Ncedile Dunywa told Abrahams the prosecution was not opposed to bail as the accused are not a flight risk and are all gainfully employed.

He did not request any special conditions to be imposed.

Advocate Dalene Barnard for Mabuyakhulu, attorney Mvuseni Ngubane for Nkonyeni and Mxolisi Nxosana representing Green-Thompson, confirmed that the bail amounts were agreed during earlier negotiations. Affidavits detailing each accused’s personal circumstances were handed to the court.

The case was postponed to January 20 when a high court trial date will be set, according to Dunywa.

The State’s indictment cites Savoi (director of Intaka Investments and shareholder of Skyros Medical Suppliers) as the leader, co-manager and “controlling mind” of a criminal enterprise in which all the other accused participated.

The purpose was to defraud KZN government departments, acquire money for the criminal enterprise, enrich its members and maintain both the enterprise and its members out of the proceeds.

Prior to doing business with the KZN government in 2004, Savoi allegedly agreed to a request by then head of treasury, Sipho Shabalala, to make a “donation” to the ANC.

In March 2004 Savoi set the wheels in motion when he, at Intaka’s cost, organised a fact-finding visit to São Paulo and Rio de Janiero in Brazil for a delegation from KZN to view Watakas and Oxyntakas in hospitals, as a result of which they expressed interest in buying the equipment.

KZN Premier Zweli Mkhizes name does not appear on the list of 79 state witnesses attached to the indictment despite recent reports citing him as a possible state witness in the matter.

The accused as they appear in the indictment are: Savoi; Sipho Shabalala, Busisiwe Nyembezi, Peggy Nkonyeni, Victor

Ntshangase (supply chain management unit head), Alson Buthelezi (former chief financial officer), Green-Thompson, Yolisa Mbele (another former Health Department head), Fernando Praderi; Annsano Romani; and Donald Miller (Savoi’s associates), Sandile Kuboni (formerly an attorney and director of Kuboni & Shezi Attorneys), Mabuyakhulu, Beatrice Shabalala (wife of Sipho Shabalala and co-director of companies), Lindelihle Mkhwanazi (company director and friend of Nkonyeni), Nozibele Phindela, Jabulani Thusi and Ian Blose (directors of Kuboni & Shezi Attorneys). The companies are: Intaka Holdings; Rowmoor Investments; Skyros Medical Suppliers, Kuboni and Shezi Attorneys, and Blue Serenity Investments.

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