State capture inquiry: Mrwebi told auditor 'Amigos fraud case' charges would be withdrawn against ANC heavyweight

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Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) forensic auditor Trevor White testifies at Judicial Commission Into State Capture in Parktown. (Photo by Gallo Images/Luba Lesolle)
Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) forensic auditor Trevor White testifies at Judicial Commission Into State Capture in Parktown. (Photo by Gallo Images/Luba Lesolle)

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) forensic auditor Trevor White learned charges against ANC heavyweight Mike Mabuyakhulu would be dropped in the "Amigos fraud case" from former special director of public prosecutions advocate Lawrence Mrwebi.

"It was a very unusual meeting, once it started it became very clear that the lead prosecutor, advocate Ncedile Dunywa, was a spectator at the meeting," White told the commission of inquiry into state capture on Wednesday.

"Mrwebi informed us there was a decision to withdraw the charges against Mabuyakhulu and they wanted to know the evidence we had against Nkonyeni as they were planning on withdrawing charges as well," he added.

White was testifying before the Zondo commission on the alleged capture of law enforcement agencies.

The forensic auditor was key to investigations into the alleged capture of the police through irregular procurements with controversial businessman Thoshan Panday as well as the alleged corrupt relationship between the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health and Cape Town-based billionaire Gaston Savoi.

READ: 'Amigos' case drags on as 2 accused ask to be tried separately

White told the commission that at the time of the meeting on March 23, 2012 - 23 accused, of which 18 were natural persons, had already been arrested, charged and a final indictment was filed in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court.

In addition, a racketeering certificate had already been issued eight months prior to the meeting, which was not an easy task, according to White. 

"This was a first for me. I have never come across a situation like this where a decision has already been made with regards to an accused, and they are asking what evidence we have against another.

"It just felt like they had made up their minds and it was just a formality, it was almost as if they did not care what the evidence was - the facts were not important in this decision," White explained.

ALSO READ: Jiba and Mrwebi axed from NPA

The forensic auditor added the lead prosecutor in the case, Dunywa, "almost said nothing" during the entire meeting.

The so-called "Amigos" case involved allegations of racketeering, corruption and fraud involving R144m in KwaZulu-Natal provincial contracts given in return for "sweeteners", News24 previously reported.

The case, which is yet to go to trial, originally had 23 accused, including ANC heavyweights Mabuyakhulu and Peggy Nkonyeni.

Charges were later withdrawn against the duo.To date, nine are facing charges. They are Cape Town-based Savoi; his company Intaka Holdings; his colleague, Fernando Praderi; the former head of provincial treasury, Sipho Shabalala, and his wife, Beatrice Shabalala; the former head of health, Busisiwe Nyembezi; former health officials Victor Ntshangase and Alson Buthelezi as well as advocate Sandile Kuboni.

Mrwebi and his former National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) boss, advocate Nomgcobo Jiba, were fired by President Cyril Ramaphosa in April last year after an inquiry chaired by Justice Yvonne Mokgoro found the pair were not fit to hold office.

Justice Mokgoro's report said Jiba's conduct on multiple occasions showed a "lack of conscientiousness", while Mrwebi was found to have failed to act without favour, and to the prejudice of the NPA, News24 reported.

The inquiry continues.

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