Was Yengeni told to surrender?

2001-10-03 22:14

Cape Town - Sources in Parliament said on Wednesday it would appear the ANC had instructed Chief Whip Tony Yengeni to hand himself over to the police. This adds weight to a perception that there is an agreement between the parties involved.

Yengeni on Wednesday appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate's Court on charges of corruption. Members of Parliament expressed fears that Yengeni would be turned into a scapegoat, and the real corruption culprits would get off scot-free.

"Tony is not the kind of person to hand himself over. He would have done so only on instruction from the ANC leadership," a member of Parliament said.

The names of ANC MPs Ntsiki Mashimbye and Mpho Scott also cropped up with reference to possible foul play. Like Yengeni, both have been involved in Parliamentary committees dealing with defence issues.

Former Defence Minister Joe Modise was also mentioned, and sources in Parliament believed his "excellent contacts" within the ANC protected him from prosecution.

"Whether Modise faces prosecution would be the acid test," an ANC parliamentarian said.

'Small fry'

IFP MP Mandla Msomi was fingered too on Wednesday. In December 1998, when he was chairperson of Parliament's public enterprises portfolio committee, Msomi also received two luxury vehicles from European Aeronautic Defence and Space (EADS) at discounted rates.

Yengeni was "small fry" and more arrests could be expected, said former ANC MP Andrew Feinstein on Wednesday.

Feinstein fell out of government favour when he supported a request from the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa), of which he was a member, for an independent probe into alleged irregularities in the R43 billion arms deal.

IFP Chief Whip Koos van der Merwe said on Wednesday Msomi had been asked to explain to caucus next week why he had requested additional benefits from EADS.

'Innocent until proven guilty'

Parliament's ethics committee has decided to await the outcome of the overall probe into the arms deal before pursuing allegations about Msomi.

The ANC national working committee will decide on Monday whether to suspend Yengeni as chief whip pending the outcome of his trial.

Chaired by Deputy President Jacob Zuma, the ANC caucus convened on Wednesday morning to discuss YengeniÆs position.

The law had to run its course, but the ANC believed in the principle of being innocent until proven guilty, ANC spokesperson Nomfanelo Kota said on Wednesday.

Speaker Frene Ginwala said in a statement on Wednesday it was up to the ANC to decide on Yengeni's future as chief whip.

The DA called for YengeniÆs suspension pending the outcome of court proceedings.