Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula says AfriForum, which has laid criminal charges against him, misinterpreted the Public Protector’s report on him. Mbalula was responding to complaints of money laundering and fraud laid against him by AfriForum in Pretoria on Tuesday.
“I’ve never been sponsored by Sedgars. It is a short-term loan that I entered into, which Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane had her own views on.”
However, in an interview with eNCA on Thursday Mbalula said it was not a loan, but “a gentleman’s agreement, which I then paid back”.
Mbalula was sports minister from November 2010 to March 2017 and subsequently police minister until February 2018. He was appointed transport minister after the May 8 general elections this year.
On Tuesday, civil society organisation AfriForum laid criminal charges against Mbalula. The charges were motivated by what the organisation has described as the National Prosecuting Authority’s failure to follow through on recommendations made by Mkhwebane last year, when she found the minister to have violated the terms and conditions of Parliament’s executive ethics code.
Mbalula maintains that he repaid the controversial R680 000 he received from Sedgars Sports for his 2016 Dubai trip.
“So there is no public funds that have been embezzled, that I’ve stolen from Sedgars. And that was done above board, money was transferred to the travel agent, which was confirmed through me. So there is no concealment of anything of that particular sort,” Mbalula added.
Mkhwebane said in her report that “the minister, by all indications, went on a vacation paid for by ‘dirty money’ and he unfairly benefited from his relationship with Sedgars and must therefore be held accountable”.
AfriForum said Mbalula’s conduct constituted the crime of corruption as determined in the recent finding by the Supreme Court of Appeals in the state vs Scholtz and others.
AfriForum on Tuesday said its private prosecutor Gerrie Nel would be watching the developments closely.