Suspended Baloyi to take legal action against BBC

Johannesburg – Suspended Black Business Council (BBC) president Danisa Baloyi has broken her silence on the circumstances surrounding the missing R5m donation to the council from Airports Company South Africa, saying she plans to take legal action against the BBC.

This follows a press briefing earlier on Monday where the BBC confirmed that it had taken a decision to suspend Baloyi at its national council meeting on November 30.

The decision came in the wake an internal investigation led by the BBC's secretary general George Sebulela, and its chairperson Sello Rasethaba

Sebulela said that there is “prima facie” evidence that Baloyi is implicated in the missing R5m. The matter has been handed over to BBC stalwarts, and a legal and auditing firm to investigate further.

Sebulela added that Baloyi is innocent until proven guilty, and that she should have an opportunity to testify at this investigation. 

Police are also investigating the missing funds, after the BBC laid charges of fraud and theft against Baloyi and Merit Energy, the company to which the R5m was paid by Acsa.

Baloyi’s lawyers sent out a statement on Monday afternoon to say that her suspension was “unfortunate”.

They indicated that no resolution was taken by the BBC's council prior to her suspension. “Our client vehemently denies that there exists any valid and lawful reason for her suspension. Even if there existed a reason [which is strongly denied], our client is of the view that any suspension is premature as there is still a pending investigation into issues which allegedly implicates wrongdoing on her part,” the statement read.

Baloyi also plans to take legal action against the BBC, according to the statement. 

Missing donation 

In a statement on Friday, Acsa explained that the R5m donation was made to support a transformation lobbying programme of the BBC, as this was aligned with Acsa's own transformation objectives.

Acsa noted that, over the past year, it had restructured its transformation strategy to support emerging black companies across seven sectors involved in its procurement. Acsa said the donation was brokered by Baloyi, and that her office specifically instructed that the money be paid to the account of Merit Energy, an intermediary.

As a result Acsa paid the R5m into Merit Energy’s account, and not the BBC’s bank account. Deposits were made in two tranches, one on April 25, and another on May 31.  “These deposits were handled in the proper way through the company’s systems and duly recorded,” said Acsa. 

Acsa on Monday said it has asked SAPS to investigate the trail of the funds after the transfer was made. “The company will lay criminal charges if any wrongdoing is uncovered,” the statement read.

During the BBC’s briefing on Monday, Sebulela said that he could not speculate why the money was deposited in the "wrong" account, as the investigation is yet to be completed.

"Where is the money? I wish I knew," he said. 

The BBC has subsequently appointed Kganki Matabane, its former COO and executive director of signal distributor Sentech, as its CEO.

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