MEC headed to court

2011-07-29 00:00

KZN Tourism and Economic Development MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu and legislature speaker Neliswa Peggy Nkonyeni are to appear before the Pietermaritzburg Regional Court on Monday charged with corruption.

The ANC’s provincial executive committee (PEC) has been garnering support for the pair and thousands of supporters are expected to converge in Freedom Square.

It is believed that arrangements were made late yesterday for Mabuyakhulu and Nkonyeni to appear in court on Monday with their legal representatives. They will be joining other accused who are already in the dock, including former KZN Treasury head Sipho Shabalala, former Health Department head Dr Busi Nyembezi and Uruguayan businessman Gaston Savoi.

The case relates to an irregular R45 million tender for water purification plants awarded to Savoi.

The ANC’s PEC meeting earlier this week reportedly decided to support PEC members Mabuyakhulu and Nkonyeni by ensuring that all PEC members are in court to support them.

The Witness saw the memorandum sent to all PEC members asking them to organise support for the two through community and branch structures.

There has been criticism of the way in which the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) handled the case by announcing the pending arrest of the two high-profile political figures in the media without executing the arrests. The KZN cabinet noted that it was unconstitutional and irregular for persons to be named in the media before appearing in court.

Mabuyakhulu was reported in a Durban newspaper as having told the NPA, “Charge me or shut up.” He has been linked to the case for allegedly accepting a R1 million donation for the ANC from Savoi when he was the party’s provincial treasurer.

For Nkonyeni, who was KZN Health MEC at the time, it has been a case of déjà vu. In a previous corruption trial for allegedly accepting kickbacks in the purchase of a mammogram machine, news of her pending arrest was leaked and she also had to wait for weeks without any arrest taking place. As seemingly happened this time around the warrant was eventually not served and she and her legal representative were asked to be at court.

There was some confusion in the provincial legislature yesterday after a newspaper last week incorrectly reported that the legislature had issued a statement in support of Mabuyakhulu and Nkonyeni. It was not the legislature but the provincial cabinet that had voiced its support.

The Inkatha Freedom Party said it does not support the two because they face corruption charges. The IFP’s Blessed Gwala urged them to step down once the charges are brought against them to protect the integrity of the provincial government and the legislature.

The ANC caucus said it is fully behind Nkonyeni and Mabuyakhulu and noted that it is the first time a serving MEC and speaker have been hauled before court on corruption charges.

Spokespersons for both Mabuyakhulu and Nkonyeni refused to comment last night.

NPA spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga referred all queries to Hawks spokesperson McIntosh Polela, whose phone was off and whose message box was full.

The Witness understands that the two politicians may be joined by at least one other person who is also to appear for the first time in connection with the case. He is not a politician but it is unclear whether he is an official or in business.

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