ANC heist suspect linked to Nkwinti's R97m 'farm for friends' scandal

2018-07-18 13:51
(File, News24)

(File, News24)

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One of four suspects arrested by the Johannesburg Metro Police Department's (JMPD) K9 unit and SAPS crime intelligence, following a cash-in-transit heist in Dobsonville, Soweto, has been identified as Errol Velile Present - a staffer at ANC headquarters, Luthuli House. 

News24 can confirm – through matching dates of birth in company and police records -  that Present is the ANC staffer who was named in a R97m "farm for friends" scandal involving former minister of rural development and land reform Gugile Nkwinti. 

The NPA's Phindi Louw on Wednesday confirmed Present's name as accused number four in the case.

Present appeared together with his co-accused in the Roodepoort Magistrate's Court on Tuesday. 

News24 understands the other suspects are Zakhele Zondi, 37, Itumeleng Manama, 40, and Bheki Biyela, 36.

The four face charges of armed robbery and possession of hijacked motor vehicles.

The matter was postponed until July 31 for formal bail application. 

The suspects were arrested on July 6 and 7. Four hijacked vehicles were recovered, two of which were apparently used during the heist which took place outside the Capitec Bank in Elias Motsoaledi Road in Soweto. 

The suspects made off with an undisclosed amount of cash, allegedly in a white Ford Ranger and a silver Volvo sedan.

'News of this arrest comes as a shock'

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said the party was dismayed that one of its employees had been arrested and had appeared in court, allegedly for involvement in "serious crimes".

Mabe would initially not divulge the name of the ANC staff member, and was not immediately available to confirm Present as the suspect. 

Mabe later told News24 on Wednesday afternoon that the ANC would be issuing an official statement shortly. 

The revelations that a Luthuli House employee was among the suspects arrested came from Johannesburg City Mayor Herman Mashaba in a statement issued on Wednesday. 

"News of this arrest comes as a shock, given the recent spate of cash-in-transit heists in Gauteng, posing a threat to the innocent lives of motorists and pedestrians," Mashaba's statement read. 

"The arrest of the individual does bring into question whether the ANC has been aware of the arrest of this individual and, if so, why they have remained silent on such an important matter. It also begs the question of how the ANC, while running national government, can employ individuals who so brazenly undermine public safety and the rule of law in our country."

Links to the top

In February 2017, the Sunday Times reported that Present had been introduced to a top land reform department official at a land summit organised by Nkwinti. 

According to the newspaper, just eight months after the meeting, Bekendvlei farm in Limpopo was bought for R97m and handed over to Present, who had been working at Luthuli House for more than 10 years. 

It is alleged that the department official bypassed required procedures and that a day after the deal went through, Nkwinti was the speaker at Present's lavish wedding. 

At the time, Nkwinti denied the allegations, however the details of the deal emerged in a forensic investigations report conducted by Deloitte. 

The report apparently recommended that Nkwinti be charged for possible corruption. 

More to follow. 

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