Deputy President David Mabuza has distanced himself from charges of corruption, fraud, theft, money laundering and contravention of the Public Finance Management Act which saw 11 senior officials who were subordinates during his tenure as Mpumalanga premier being arrested this week.
In a media statement issued by Mabuza’s media liaison officer Matshepo Seedat, the office of the deputy president said it had “noted the media coverage on the arrest of about 11 people, including current serving member of Parliament Bongani Bongo, for alleged fraud that is said to have taken place during 2011 and 2012 in the Mpumalanga province”.
“While the deputy president confirms that the reported alleged events, fall under the period that he was serving as the premier of Mpumalanga,” the statement said Mabuza “would like to categorically deny any involvement and condemn any attempt to drag his name in any form or capacity into the criminal conduct under investigation”.
Bongo, a former state security minister, and 10 others – Robert Burwise, Patrick Donald Chirwa, Harrington Sizwakhendaba Dhlamini, Blessing Mduduzi Singwane, David Boy Dube, Sipho Joel Bongo, Vusi Willem Magagula, Bongani Louis Henry Sibiya, Elmon Lawrence Mdaka and Sibongile Mercy Mdaka – briefly appeared in the Nelspruit Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday on charges of corruption, fraud, theft, money laundering and contravention of the Public Finance Management Act. Together they face 69 counts.
The majority of the charges are in connection with the R37.5 million sale and purchase of a farm in Naauwpoort, Emalahleni, by the Mpumalanga department of human settlements, ostensibly on behalf of eMalahleni Municipality.
Some of the accused, acting in concert and with a common purpose, allegedly exploited purchase of land by government by misrepresenting facts to the department regarding ownership and the true sale price of the farm.
While some media reports have insinuated Mabuza’s involvement, his office was quick to explain that “the deputy president is not aware of any investigation on him as alluded to in the media, but would cooperate with law enforcement agencies should there be questions that need his response as a person who was responsible for the province at the time, as the premier of Mpumalanga”.
Seedat added that “the deputy president does, however, welcome the progress made on the Special Investigating Unit’s investigation into the Mpumalanga human settlements land procurement issue”.
“We welcome the progress that law enforcement agencies continue to make in the fight against corruption,” says the statement.
Mabuza’s office also appealed to the public to “allow the law to take its course without hindrance and to extend their support to law enforcement agencies in carrying out their work by providing them with any evidential information that they might be aware of to expedite the investigation process”.
All the accused were released on R10 000 bail each and they were warned to appear again in March next year.