Mrwebi responds to R10K Bosasa payment claims: 'I heard that I am the cheapest of them all'

2019-02-20 18:20
Suspended special director of public prosecutions, advocate Lawrence Mrwebi. (Jeanette Chabalala, News24)

Suspended special director of public prosecutions, advocate Lawrence Mrwebi. (Jeanette Chabalala, News24)

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Suspended special director of public prosecutions Lawrence Mrwebi told the Mokgoro Inquiry that the R10 000 he allegedly received from facilities management company Bosasa did not reach his bank account. 

Mrwebi took the stand for the first time on Wednesday to respond to allegations levelled against him. 

Last month, former Bosasa COO turned whistleblower, Angelo Agrizzi, testified before the state capture inquiry that Mrwebi and suspended deputy prosecutions boss Nomgcobo Jiba accepted bribes and blocked prosecutions.

Agrizzi testified that former correctional services commissioner Linda Mti leaked confidential National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) documents to Bosasa.

Jiba allegedly received R100 000, Mrwebi R10 000 and Jackie Lepinka, who was reportedly working as Jiba's personal assistant at the time, received R20 000 every month. All three have denied the allegations.

READ: 'I have no reason to favour Mdluli' - Lawrence Mrwebi testifies

Responding to the allegations before retired judge of the Constitutional Court, Yvonne Mokgoro, Mrwebi said: "Yes, I heard that I am the cheapest of them all."

"I don't know what to say about that. What I can only say is that either that money was received by somebody for his/her own purposes because it did not reach my account or myself," Mrwebi testified. 

During his testimony at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture, Agrizzi also said that in 2013, the lead prosecutor in the Bosasa matter, Marijke de Kock, wrote a memo in which she explained that she believed she would be ready to prosecute some of those involved in the Bosasa tenders-for-bribes scandal by the end of 2013. But this never happened.

Agrizzi further claimed that in exchange for the documents and for the case against the company to be shut down, Bosasa executives paid cash to Mti which he would then pass on to Jiba, Lepinka and Mrwebi, who was De Kock's boss.

But Mrwebi denied he was responsible for shutting down prosecutions in the Bosasa matter, Instead, he said he encouraged and put pressure on the prosecutor in the matter. 

Mrwebi told the inquiry that Lepinka was Mti's private secretary

OVERVIEW: 'That money did not reach my account' - Mrwebi on allegations of receiving R10 000 from Bosasa #Mokgoroinquiryshe was employed by the NPA

He said when he joined the head office in 2011, Lepinka was already at the NPA. 

Mrwebi said his first involvement in the Bosasa matter was in October 2013.

He received a report from his two deputy directors that the Bosasa matter was presented and registered with the anti-corruption task team.

He said his second role was in relation to Section 205 subpoenas which Agrizzi already testified about.

"Some of the people connected with that investigation had been required to appear before the magistrate and to be examined by the prosecutor in relation to certain transactions they were involved in."

He said the acting regional head and the prosecutor in the Bosasa matter wrote a memo to him, saying he should intervene in the Section 205 subpoenas. 

"I looked into the matter and I wrote a letter saying it would be inappropriate for the NPA to withdraw the matter.

"The subpoena is like a court order - if those people (Bosasa individuals) wanted the subpoenas to be set aside, their only action is to take the matter to court and review the subpoena," he said.   

Mrwebi said they had their first formal briefing on Bosasa as early as January 2013.

"It was then that we got an indication that the prosecutor in the matter was ready at least to prosecute some people within the Bosasa company, in particular Patrick Gillingham.

"We were promised the charge sheet by April 2013 and we put pressure on the prosecutor from January and the following months to say: 'When will the charge sheet be ready?'

"Mr Agrizzi was one of the people that we were sure that we had ample evidence against him to be prosecuted at that time," he said. 

Mrwebi said during a meeting to discuss the Bosasa matter -  the prosecutor changed and said she believed the Bosasa officials should be charged with racketeering. 

He said the prosecutor called Jiba aside and raised her concerns about "a certain individual".

He said it was the first time a disclosure was made about a relationship between Lepinka (who was part of the meeting) and Mti.

He said Lepinka was excused from the meeting and never joined any Bosasa-related meetings. 

Asked by his advocate, Mervyn Rip, SC, if he knew Mti, Mrwebi denied ever meeting him (Mti). He said he knew Mti as an accused in the Bosasa matter but he did not have any relationship with him. 

The inquiry adjourned until Thursday when Jiba is expected to testify. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa suspended Mrwebi and Jiba in October 2018, pending the outcome of the inquiry.

He is expected to receive the inquiry report on March 9.

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Read more on:    bosasa  |  lawrence mrwebi  |  nomgcobo jiba  |  mokgoro inquiry

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