The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has announced that it will prosecute EFF leader Julius Malema’s former business associates and co-accused for tender fraud amounting to R60.4 million, but Malema will escape prosecution – for now.
In a letter addressed to lobby group AfriForum on Friday, the NPA said it would prosecute On-Point Engineering – as well as the company’s chief executive, Lesiba Gwangwa, and one of its directors, Kagisho Dichabe – in the high court.
The charges relate to misrepresentation to Limpopo’s department of roads and transport with regard to the awarding of a tender worth almost R52 million.
The NPA has added Thomas Rasethaba, who allegedly had a trust with an interest in On-Point, to the list of those who will be prosecuted.
Gwangwa and On-Point will also face three fraud charges for misrepresenting the company as having not been paid for road drawings and designs, when it had, in fact, been paid R8.4 million.
In the NPA’s letter, advocate George Baloyi, the acting director of public prosecutions in Pretoria, said he would not prosecute Malema “at this stage”.
“After the finalisation of the trial in this matter, the record of the proceedings – and any credibility findings that the court might have made during the trial, as well as the report of the prosecutor – will be perused to determine whether a criminal prosecution should be instituted against Malema,” he wrote.
“A separate investigation will immediately be launched regarding his administration of the Ratanang Family Trust, and a decision will be taken ... after the finalisation of the investigation.”
On-Point was appointed in 2009 to help the roads and transport department with the development of infrastructure, maintenance work and planning.
Malema, Gwangwa and Dichabe were charged with corruption, money laundering and racketeering in the Polokwane High Court in Limpopo, but the case has stalled since 2012.
When the state asked for another three-week postponement on August 4 2015, Judge Billy Mothle struck the case from the roll.
At the time of the initial case, the state alleged that the roads department had paid On-Point R43 million for the tender and that Malema’s family trust, as a shareholder in On-Point, had allegedly received R4 million of the money. Malema denied the allegations.
After the matter was struck from the roll, AfriForum said it would institute a private prosecution against Malema.
AfriForum’s Kallie Kriel told City Press’ sister publication, Rapport, that the lobby group had waited for 18 months for the NPA to decide on the case.
“At least a decision has now been taken, even though it is the wrong one. We will make representations to say that it is the wrong decision. Malema must be prosecuted with the rest.”
Kriel said that according to Gerrie Nel, head of AfriForum’s private prosecutions unit, there was enough evidence to charge Malema for money laundering.