Convicted fraudster seeks to stop parliamentary processes aimed at removing him as Icasa chair

2019-03-18 08:18
Rubben Mohlaloga. (Supplied)

Rubben Mohlaloga. (Supplied)

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Fraud and money-laundering convict Rubben Mohlaloga will not only be fighting to stay out of prison but to also remain chairperson of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa).

Sentenced to 20 years imprisonment last month but currently on bail pending an appeal of his sentencing, Mohlaloga has turned to the court in a bid to stop parliamentary process that would finalise his removal from Icasa.

READ: Parliament wants convicted fraudster and Icasa chair to be suspended

He argued in a founding affidavit signed on Thursday - which News24 has seen - that it would be too late to challenge a decision to fire him from Icasa once Parliament has decided he should be fired.

The portfolio committee on communication resolved on Tuesday that Mohlaloga "should be removed and also as a council member of Icasa".

The committee chairperson Hlengiwe Mkhize was quoted in a statement adding: "As it is in the act of Icasa that a person who is found guilty cannot hold the position of a councillor."

The court found that Mohlaloga, a former ANC member of Parliament, and his co-accused defrauded the Land Bank of about R6m when he was chairperson of Parliament's portfolio committee on agriculture. He acted with his accomplices to transfer the money from the Land Bank to an attorney's trust account.

He was sentenced in the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court, alongside former acting head of the Land Bank Philemon Mohlahlane and attorney Dinga Rammy Nkwashu.

Mohlahlane was sentenced to seven years in prison, while attorney Nkwashu was sentenced to 24 years in prison.

On learning of the portfolio committee's resolution to have him removed as Icasa chairperson, Mohlaloga had through his lawyers written to Parliament arguing why he cannot be fired.

News24 has seen a March 14 letter from Parliament's legal advisor, Fatima Ebrahim, in which it was confirmed to him that the committee had adopted a resolution to fire him, thus leaving it for the National Assembly to rubber stamp the decision before Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams dismisses him.

ALSO READ: Conviction of Icasa boss: Ndabeni-Abrahams says her hands are tied

He was further informed in the same letter that the "National Assembly Programme Committee has agreed that the report be tabled in the National Assembly for consideration at its sitting on Tuesday, 19 March 2019".

Mohlaloga's main argument is that he should be allowed to remain in the position pending the finalisation of his appeal of his conviction and sentence in the High Court.

In his affidavit, Mohlaloga attached an April 30, 2018 letter from former communications minister Nomvula Mokonyane in which she said to his lawyers: "the process of suspension of your client will be held in abeyance pending the finalisation of the said court application and recommencement of the parliamentary processes, if any, for the removal of your client by the National Assembly in terms of Section 8 of Icasa Act No 13 of 2002".

He further argued that he was already in court over the same case he was convicted on when appointed at Icasa.

"At the time of my appointment the respondents were fully aware of my pending criminal case in the magistrate's court and the nature of charges I faced," he said in his affidavit.

Going back to the pending appeal process, Mohlaloga's lawyers in their letter to Parliament on Tuesday further argued that the "appeal process as contemplated in the criminal procedure act 511 of 1957 is not yet complete to enable the minister (Ndabeni-Abrahams) and the National Assembly initiate a removal of our client as a councillor and chairperson of Icasa".

They further said according to a court order they obtained in April last year, the "National Assembly cannot proceed with the consideration of a matter involving out client until such time as the court application in relation to the court order has been determined".

It remains to be seen if Mohlaloga will have it his way and stop the tabling of the committee's resolution to remove him from Icasa tabled in Parliament last Tuesday. Attempts to get hold of him telephonically were unsuccessful but sources close to him have confirmed that he is hellbent on fighting to remain chairperson of Icasa, as well as mounting a legal challenge to that effect.

Read more on:    icasa  |  rubben mohlaloga
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