Mabuza distances himself from Mpumalanga fraudulent land deals case

David Mabuza.
David Mabuza.
Gallo Images

Deputy President David Mabuza has denied any knowledge of an investigation against him, amid reports of fraud charges being laid against ANC MP Bongani Bongo and 10 other people. 

These arrests were in connection with alleged fraud that took place during 2011 and 2012 in Mpumalanga.

Mabuza, who was the premier of the province during that time, said in a statement on Wednesday that he wanted to "categorically deny any involvement and condemn any attempt to drag his name in any form or capacity into the criminal conduct under investigation".

READ | ANC's Bongani Bongo accused of 'dubious land deals'

The statement said he was not aware of any investigation against him, which had been insinuated in some media reports.

He said he would, however, "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".

Bongo and his brother, Sipho Joel Bongo, were each released on R10 000 bail by the Mbombela Magistrate's Court earlier on Wednesday.

They appeared in court with 10 co-accused for fraud and corruption, linked to a case that dates back to the time when Bongo was an official in the Mpumalanga government.

Four companies are also on the charge sheet.

The other charges against the group are money laundering and contravention of the Public Finance Management Act.

On Tuesday, Hawks spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Philani Nkwalase said the accused were fingered for alleged fraud and corruption "in connection with dubious land deals amounting to almost R124 million".

"It is alleged that during February 2012 a complaint was made about the Msukaligwa Municipality that allegedly bought a Rietspruit farm in Ermelo worth R11 million, yet sold for about R36.4 million in 2011, to develop a township whilst the municipality owned a farm that could have been utilised for the same purpose," said Nkwalase.

"Another whistleblower alerted the investigators to two other deals involving two farms, a 70-hectare Malelane farm worth R44 million that was allegedly sold to the municipality at R50 million in 2011 and a 74.2 hectare Naauwpoort in Emalahleni worth R16 million apparently sold for R37.5 million."

He said the combined value of those three farms was actually around R70 million, but through "alleged collusion by the suspects", the Mpumalanga human settlements department suffered a loss of just under R124 million.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Sipho Ngwema said it was alleged that some of the accused received kickbacks of cash and cars, among others, from some of the entities involved in the transactions.  

According to the charge sheet, a BMW X5 and an Audi A5 RS5 were registered in the name of Sipho Joel Bongo, but were de facto owned by Bongani Bongo.

- Compiled by Kerushun Pillay and Jenna Etheridge.

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