Khoza plot thickens

2001-09-02 12:03

Johannesburg - The probe into the activities of Orlando Pirates boss Irvin Khoza have deepened amid revelations that people close to him have given the police information about his activities.

New leads provided police with another breakthrough when Khoza's supposed relative and go-between, Banana Mahlangu, was arrested.

Police recovered five stolen vehicles and documents shedding more light on Khoza's business activities.

City Press can also reveal that despite denials by top justice ministry officials, the police and Scorpions special unit are in fact investigating various allegations surrounding "The Iron Duke", including the disappearance of Soweto socialite Rocks Dlamini, a self-confessed drug dealer.

Scorpions spokesperson Sipho Ngwema confirmed police were investigating a number of allegations and following various leads. He gave no further details.

However, top investigators in the office of National Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi said Khoza was being investigated for fraud, murder, drug dealing and money laundering.

It is believed Khoza is connected to as many as 100 companies, all of which police are now investigating.

A detective said they were trying to establish if Khoza had stashed millions in the trust accounts of an attorney connected to football.

'The next ten days are crucial'

A policeman involved in the investigation into drug dealing and the disappearance and probable murder of Dlamini told City Press the next 10 days would be crucial to their probe.

"We have covered a lot of ground. The swoop on Khoza helped a great deal. The next week or two will tell whether more charges could be laid against Khoza," he said.

One of the top figures who may pull Khoza down is the Premier Soccer League's (PSL's) former chief executive, Joe Ndhlela. He may be able to provide vital information relating to Khoza's financial activities and is said to have pointed out a number of likely witnesses.

A City Press investigation has established Ndhlela and other likely witnesses were placed in a witness protection programme at a police station in Pretoria for more than three months before the swoop on Khoza's house and the offices of Orlando Pirates.

Ndhlela could not be reached for comment yesterday and is believed to have gone back into protective custody after he was released on bail on Friday.

It can, however, be revealed that Ndhlela had a meeting with Safety and Security Minister Steve Tshwete, Selebi and the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), Bulelani Ngcuka.

He had threatened to expose top figures, including a member of the NDPP, a soccer official and a director of Transnet, for allegedly conspiring to have him arrested and removed from the PSL.

'Investigations of national importance'

The charges against Ndhlela are expected to be dropped when he makes his next court appearance in December. He is said to be helping the police in "investigations of national importance".

Until he dramatically obtained bail on Friday, Ndhlela was being held on fraud charges involving some R1 million relating to his employment at Transnet.

Selebi could not be reached for comment as he was reported to be in Mauritius on police business.

City Press can also reveal Selebi and his top lieutenants have on more than two occasions travelled to Dubai to question international drug baron Vicky Goswami.

Goswami, the boss of the Indian Kanu Mafia and their drug-smuggling kingpin in Africa prior to his imprisonment in Dubai on drug charges shortly after fleeing SA in 1995, is said to be a close business associate of Khoza.

The two were heavily implicated in the Dlamini saga after a R1,5 million Mandrax deal went sour.

Police have indicated the Lear jet allegedly in Khoza's possession once belonged to Goswami and operated from Lanseria airport.

The others known to have been questioned include convicted drug dealer Sipho Ndzeku, former soccer boss Passmore Mdhluli and Solly Nkutha, who is awaiting trial on drug charges.

Another police witness is Siwi Meela, the wife of Chris Meela, a close friend of Dlamini.

Chris Meela died in mysterious circumstances shortly after being admitted to Johannesburg General hospital with pneumonia in 1998.