Police knew about Motaung

Johannesburg - City Press has reliably learnt that Mpumalanga’s police chief sat on intelligence reports implicating Kaizer Chiefs manager Bobby Motaung for three years.

Motaung and his former business partners, Herbert Theledi and Chris Grib of Lefika Emerging Equity, were arrested by the Hawks this week in connection with fraud estimated at R143m.

Lefika won the tender to design the R1.2bn Mbombela soccer stadium in Nelspruit for the Soccer World Cup.

This was the first arrest relating to the corruption claims since Mbombela speaker Jimmy Mohlala blew the whistle in 2008.

He was assassinated the following year.

The corruption case has been in limbo for the past four years, amid persistent allegations of political interference and police bias.

Senior police sources told City Press last week that intelligence reports implicating Motaung, Theledi, Grib and municipal officials were given to provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Thulani Ntombela in 2009 but he did nothing about it.

“The intelligence guys looked stupid when their reports were ignored as they worked hard on the case and presented their reports to the commissioner. These arrests could have been done a long time ago,” said a senior police officer.

The crime intelligence unit, City Press understands, was also excluded from Mohlala’s assassination case, which led to the wrongful arrest of two cops and three others in October 2010.

Ntombela is also accused of ignoring audit reports commissioned by the Mbombela municipality that were given to him by former mayor, Lassy Chiwayo.

Ntombela laid defamation charges against Chiwayo last year when Chiwayo accused him of taking political sides in the matter.

Mpumalanga police spokesperson Colonel Leonard Hlathi said: “The Mbombela case falls within the mandate of the Hawks, so there’s no way (Ntombela) could have sat on reports. As for the defamation case, he is the complainant and won’t discuss it in the media.”

Two more police sources said last week’s arrests were precipitated by deteriorating relations between Ntombela and the Mpumalanga head of the Hawks, Major-General Simon Mapiane.

Police sources have told City Press that the fall-out had emboldened Mapiane to act against Motaung and his co-accused.

Hawks spokesperson McIntosh Polela did not respond to written questions.

Motaung and Theledi were released on R50 000 bail on Thursday, while Grip appeared on Friday and was given a lesser bail amount of R20 000 after pleading poverty.

The three allegedly submitted a fraudulent tax certificate when Lefika bid for the tender to design the Mbombela Stadium in 2006. The alternative charge is theft of R143m.

They are also accused of faking a letter on an Mbombela municipality letterhead and forging the signature of an official to apply for an R1m overdraft.

The bank declined Lefika’s request after probing the letters’ authenticity.

Lefika was appointed to design and project manage the Mbombela Stadium. Lefika’s appointment also gave them the privilege of sitting in on supply chain committees that appointed other contractors for the stadium’s construction.

But the company became the centre of controversy.

Problems started with the sod-turning ceremony on which R1.4m was spent.

This became the subject of a KPMG probe.

KPMG said Lefika had declined to provide information on its expenditure, and when it did, the information was not legible.

Other allegations and audit probes followed thick and fast.

Lefika awarded the construction tender to Mbombela Stadium Joint Venture, a partnership between Basil Read and French firm Bouygues Civil Works, but did not declare that it was working with Basil Read on another project - the Amakhosi Stadium project in Krugersdorp, that still hasn’t been built.
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