NPA comes under fire for 'vague' indictment in corruption case involving one of their own

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The former acting Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions and the former head of the Mpumalanga human settlements department  have been charged with corruption.
The former acting Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions and the former head of the Mpumalanga human settlements department have been charged with corruption.
PHOTO: Fani Mahuntsi, Gallo Images
  • Former acting Director of Public Prosecutions Matric Luphondo and former head of the Mpumalanga human settlements department Kebone Masange have been charged with corruption. 
  • It is alleged that Luphondo and Masange attempted to bribe a prosecutor to have a criminal case disappear. 
  • While the trial was meant to start on Wednesday, the defence has objected to the formulation of the indictment. 

Former acting Director of Public Prosecutions in Mpumalanga Matric Luphondo has contended that the corruption case against him is premised on an indictment that is "extremely vague, ambiguous and does not necessarily constitute a criminal offence".

The trial against Luphondo and his co-accused, former head of the Mpumalanga human settlements department Kebone Masange, was meant to start on Wednesday in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria. 

However, the matter was delayed again after Luphondo’s legal team objected to the charge sheet. Advocate Danie Dörfling, SC, initially raised four issues with the indictment.

The first was around the use of the Minimum Sentencing Act in the indictment charges, despite the facts not justifying the inclusion of those provisions.

The State has since conceded and deleted the reference to the act from the indictment. 

The second issue related to the second count, a charge of conspiracy to commit a crime, in which Dörfling argued that the indictment lacked details on why the accused’s conduct or actions constituted a criminal offence. 

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He argued that the State did not disclose in what manner Luphondo allegedly conspired, with whom and when the alleged conspiracy took place. 

Dörfling added that the description given to two other charges was "extremely vague, ambiguous" and in its current iteration did not constitute a criminal offence.

This argument was in relation to charges where the accused allegedly offered a bribe to a prosecutor to make criminal charges against Masange disappear. 

The defence also took issue with what they termed was "the incomplete reference to the essential elements of the crime defined in the statute" in respect of four charges that Luphondo is facing. 

READ | NPA boss in court for 'bribing prosecutor to make case of undocumented Zim national go away'

The objections effectively set out that the accused can't plead to charges that are vague and lack details on how a criminal offence was committed. 

Defending its formulation of the indictment, the State argued that the charges should be read in conjunction with the statement of facts which also form part of the indictment.

The prosecutor, advocate Max Orban, argued that the details of how, where and when the offences were committed were clearly set out in the summary of facts.

The court is expected to hand down judgment on the objections on Monday. 

Alleged crime

News24 previously reported that Zimbabwean-born Masange was arrested in September 2020 on charges of fraud, possession of fraudulent documents and contravening the Immigration Act.

Masange was accused of being in South Africa illegally and using fraudulent documents in his application for the head of department position at the Mpumalanga human settlements department.

Luphondo and Hawks official Ayanda Plaatjie are alleged to have colluded with Masange to make the criminal charges against him disappear. Plaatjie died in 2021.

According to the charge sheet, on 12 March 2021, Plaatjie approached the prosecutor who had been assigned to prosecute Masange at the DPP's office in Pretoria and asked if there was any way "to get out of this case".

On 18 March, Luphondo allegedly called the prosecutor and requested a meeting at an eatery in Arcadia, Pretoria.

There, Luphondo allegedly told the prosecutor that Masange was willing to do anything to get out of the case and that they should help him.

Less than a week later, on 23 March, Luphondo allegedly met up with the prosecutor and handed him an 18-year-old bottle of Glenfiddich whisky, valued at R1 550, and R5 000 in cash.

Luphondo then allegedly told the prosecutor there would be more where that came from. Four days later, Plaatjie is said to have contacted the prosecutor and asked to meet him in Pretoria, where he allegedly handed the prosecutor R28 000 in cash.

Both Luphondo and Masange previously said they would plead not guilty to the charges.

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