A decision by the acting head of the Hawks to personally take over a docket that could lead to the reinstatement of charges of fraud and corruption against Kaizer Chiefs boss Bobby Motaung has been cited as a reason for the most recent delay in the case.
Acting Hawks head Major General Mthandazo Ntlemeza has allegedly declined to give the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) the docket implicating Motaung and five others in tender irregularities related to the R1.2 billion construction of Mbombela Stadium before the 2010 soccer World Cup.
The unit’s Mpumalanga-based investigator, Warrant Officer Mashudu Mashamba, had been removed from the case and the docket has been sent to Pretoria.
But a police source who is close to the case told City Press the NPA requested the docket on May 15 with a view to reinstating the charges against Motaung and his five co-accused, but Ntlemeza refused to hand it over.
The case has been in limbo since the Nelspruit Regional Court struck it off the roll in June 2013 because of the NPA’s bungle. The NPA could not decide if it wanted the trial to continue in the regional court or be transferred to the high court. Its head office issued two letters – one saying it should stay in the regional court and another supporting a transfer to the high court.
But City Press has learnt that Ntlemeza removed the docket from Mpumalanga a week ago without giving any reasons.
“After the case was struck off the roll, the investigating officer did some more work. The investigation is complete and the NPA wants to put the case back on the court’s roll, but Ntlemeza has been refusing to [supply] the docket,” the source said.
Mashamba declined to comment because he is not authorised to speak to the media.
Motaung’s company, Lefika Emerging Equity, was awarded a tender to design the stadium in 2006.
The Hawks arrested Motaung; his partner, Herbert Theledi; and Lefika CEO Chris Grip in August 2012 for allegedly:
. Using a false tax certificate when they bid for the tender to design the stadium;
. Forging an Mbombela municipal council letter to get a R1 million overdraft; and
. Stealing R143 million.
Soon after the trio was arrested, they were indicted on additional charges of fraud, corruption and contravention of the Municipal Finance Management Act. The charges related to R920 million worth of stadium tenders.
Motaung and his accomplices were charged alongside former Mbombela municipal manager Jacob Dladla, former Ehlanzeni District Municipality technical manager Tebogo Kubeka and Grip’s lawyer, Michael Ramos.
Ramos was Lefika’s compliance officer when the company was awarded the tender.
NPA spokesperson Bulelwa Makeke said they could do little about the matter until the docket was in the hands of the prosecuting authority.
“The docket is currently with the acting head of the Hawks, and the prosecutors have requested it. Once the docket is received, the evidence will be assessed and the assigned prosecutors will decide if the matter is ready to be enrolled,” Makeke said.
She added that the matter would be enrolled in the Nelspruit Regional Court again once the docket was handed over.
Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi referred many of the queries to the investigating officer, but added it was Ntlemeza’s right to request certain dockets from time to time.
“It was [Ntlemeza’s] prerogative that it was given to the task team, since it has been stagnant since its withdrawal in 2013. The main purpose is to rejuvenate the investigations and finalise outstanding issues … Once completed, it will be taken back to Mpumalanga for enrolment by the responsible prosecutor,” Mulaudzi said.
He added that there was nothing untoward when Ntlemeza “peruses, inspects, conducts or intervenes” in any case in the unit.
Motaung’s lawyer, Zola Majavu, said he was not aware of the NPA’s intention to put the case back on the roll.
“I’ve not heard anything from anyone, including my client. But I’m not worried. We will be ready and deal with it if it’s put on the roll,” Majavu said.
Mashamba has earned respect for cracking a number of tender corruption cases in Mpumalanga.
The Mbombela case is very sensitive because former Mbombela council speaker Jimmy Mohlala was assassinated while exposing the alleged corruption.
Mohlala was shot dead on January 5 2009 at his home in KaNyamazane township, outside Mbombela.
Police have not yet solved the case. They arrested five suspects – policemen Finish Mkhabela and Stanley Mhlanga, Jenny Mabika and her son Sakhile, and Moses Mahungela – a year after the crime was committed, but released them two years later due to insufficient evidence.
Mhlanga later died, but Mkhabela has since been cleared and reinstated after he lost his government job. He was also paid his salary retrospectively.
Internal police correspondence shows that former Mpumalanga commissioner Lieutenant General Thulani Ntobela ignored advice from his deputy that the two cops could not be charged because the only shred of evidence to link them to the crime was the affidavit.