ANC MP Bernice Swarts is under investigation for allegedly swindling a businessperson of R500 000 under the pretext that it was going to be donated to the ANC for its 2014 general elections campaign.
Not much has been known about Swarts until questions were raised about President Cyril Ramaphosa’s CR17 campaign and Public Protector Busi Mkhwebane launched an investigation when it came out that the late Bosasa (now known as African Global Operations) chief executive officer, Gavin Watson, donated R500 000.
Swarts, according to information that became publicly known about the CR17 campaign, allegedly received R16 million from an account linked to the campaign to mobilise support in Mpumalanga province.
The parliamentarian allegedly received R500 000 from Tuwani Mulaudzi in 2013, but the money did not reach the ANC. This was six years before Swarts became an MP.
Mulaudzi told City Press that Swarts had refused to repay him and disappeared without trace after he found out that she kept the donation for herself. He had donated the money after a meeting with Swarts and Andile Mbeki at Waterkloof Ridge in Pretoria. Mbeki is a former chief executive officer of the Gauteng Film Commission.
“Little did I know that the money was going into Swarts’ Absa account. At that time it was difficult to establish who the owner of the bank account was when paying through EFT,” he said.
It was only when Swarts was announced as a MP in May that Mulaudzi saw her in newspapers. He decided to try to reclaim his money. He reported the matter to National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise, who referred it to ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina.
Swarts did not respond to questions sent to her parliamentary email address and WhatsApp, or voice messages.
Mulaudzi said he had informed ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile and secretary-general Ace Magashule. Mashatile and Magashule, said Majodina, also referred the matter to her.
“Bernice has been on the run for all these years. I believe it was not only from me, but also from other people she swindled. I had no idea where she was. I literally hunted her down. I recall even driving to Mpumalanga to look for her, getting to a point of hiring bouncers and debt collectors,” Mulaudzi said.
“The police claimed they did not know her whereabouts, could not find her and the docket disappeared. The ANC leaders in the region also claimed they didn’t know where she lived … after meetings she would ask them to drop her at the shops,” said Mulaudzi.
He said when he contacted Swarts on March 16 2017, she sent him a vulgar text, which City Press has seen: “Jou ma se groot g&%!!t, f#$%n n$#!!r (Your mother’s big a#4!!s, f$%!! a***e). You must go get bored somewhere else whoever you are bloody motherf#@!!r.”
Majodina said that she was seeking legal advice about Mulaudzi’s complaint, which she started investigating towards the end of September this year.
“… He [Mulaudzi] approached [Modise] who referred the matter to me as ANC chief whip. Subsequent to that I met [Mashatile] who also referred the matter to me after he was approached by Mr Mulaudzi. Thereafter, the secretary-general approached me as well that I must follow up on this case that involved Comrade Bernice Swarts … because they received a formal complaint from Mr Mulaudzi [about Swarts] who alleged that she defrauded him of a huge sum of money,” she said.
“I did verify facts from both Mr Mulaudzi and Cde Swarts and my findings are that no money was received by the ANC from Mr Mulaudzi. All the transfers Mr Mulaudzi conducted went directly to Cde Swarts’ bank account. I’m still handling the matter further in terms of [Swarts] as an ANC MP notwithstanding that these money transactions occurred between 2013/14, long before [she] became an MP which was only in May this year after elections. I’m seeking legal advice on the matter,” said Majodina.
She said that the case had not yet been referred to Parliament’s ethics committee.
A WhatsApp message, which Majodina submitted to Magashule and Mashatile, and sent to Mulaudzi indicates that Swarts did not honour a meeting with the chief whip and Mulaudzi on October 1.
In that message Majodina recommended that the matter be sent to the ANC’s integrity committee and the parliamentary ethics committee.
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