State capture: Top NPA official Knorx Molelle suspended

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Advocate Knorx Molelle.
Advocate Knorx Molelle.
Busi Nyembezi

The KwaZulu-Natal head of the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) and former acting AFU head Advocate Knorx Mollele, has been suspended. 

According to two senior sources within the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), and a third in the Department of Justice, Molelle was placed on suspension by Justice Minister Ronald Lamola this week. The sources, who spoke to News24 on condition of anonymity, said the suspension stemmed from the appointment of curators in two separate cases in which arms of the state were trying to claw back funds lost to state capture. 

News24 understands the National Director of Public Prosecutions Advocate Shamila Batohi made a recommendation Molelle be suspended, which was accepted by Lamola. 

The first, it is understood, relates to R1 billion in fees paid to multi-national consultancy firm McKinsey & Company by Eskom. Trillion Capital Partners – a local financial advisory firm with close links to the Gupta brothers – were paid R600 million in fees as Mckinsey’s "supply development partner". 

In 2018, when a lawsuit brought by the NPA loomed large, McKinsey voluntarily paid back their fees to Eskom. 

Even though these funds were already "secured", said a source, Molelle was steadfast in appointing a firm of Durban-based curators. 

"The curator did not take control of the money because they were not needed, yet the company was paid over R18m.

"The money was in the victim’s [Eskom] bank account, the curator would have had no role," the source alleged. 

The other case which is alleged to have signalled Molelle’s suspension was that of the tainted Estina Dairy farm scam. The Free State provincial government had bankrolled the Estina project to the tune of R220 million, with a mere R2 million being spent on the farm, and the rest siphoned off to the Gupta family and their associates.

Molelle was appointed as acting head of the AFU during the tenure of former NDPP advocate Shaun Abrahams.

He managed the the asset recovery arm of the NPA when it instituted action against the Gupta family and their companies in connection with the Estina case. Criminal charges were provisionally withdrawn, and provisional restraint order was lifted in May 2018. 

"The curator claims to have restrained R700m in assets, yet it was only R250m that was secured. The fees paid to curators are a percentage of the total amount restrained.

"Curators either did no work, or their bills were extremely inflated," the source alleged.

Department of Justice spokesman Crispin Phiri referred requests for comment to the NPA. NPA spokesman Sipho Ngwema could not be reached for comment. 

Repeated attempts to contact Molelle on Friday were not successful.

This is a developing story.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
Voting Booth
When planning for the Black Friday sales do you:
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Save, research and plan ahead, preparing to make the most of it?
8% - 876 votes
Wait and see what looks like a good deal on the day?
14% - 1644 votes
Have no interest in spending more money this year?
78% - 8996 votes
Brent Crude
All Share
Top 40
Financial 15
Industrial 25
Resource 10
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo