Shock arrests across country amid crackdown on tender graft, Newsline

DURBAN – There was a slew of court appearances across the country on Friday as shock arrests of a number of high-profile people were made relating to different multimillion-rand fraud and corruption cases.

On Friday afternoon saw top Durban businessman and former Jacob Zuma associate Thoshan Panday, 48, in the dock of the Durban Magistrate’s Court alongside SAPS Colonel Navin Madhoe, 51.

Also named in the charge sheet were former KwaZulu-Natal police commissioner Mmamonnye Ngobeni, 52, and SAPS Captain Ashwin Narainpershad, 52.

The charges are in connection with a R47 million tender relating to temporary police accommodation during the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

The Investigating Directorate spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority, Sindisiwe Twala, said the charges include multiple counts of corruption, while three of them face counts of fraud and forgery.

In his court papers Friday to support his bail application, Panday submitted that he owned “immovable assets and four cars” in Plettenberg Bay but did not mention their monetary value. He said he earned R20 000 a month that he used “to pay my ordinary expenses”. He further submitted that were he to not receive bail, “my children and family will suffer prejudice”.

Ravindra Maniklall, Madhoe’s lawyer, said: “This is an old case dating back to 2010. It’s been going on for 10 years. He has still got to conduct his life but this has come 10 years too late.

“The colonel will plead not guilty. These are old charges that have been in the public domain for ten years … I am sure he wants to get it over and done with rather than having them hanging over his head unnecessarily.”

The State did not oppose bail.

Bail was set at R100 000 for Panday and R10 000 for Madhoe and the matter was postponed to November 11.

Late Friday, the Investigative Directorate confirmed they were in the process of locating Ngobeni and Narainpershad.

Official from KZN premier’s office nabbed

Meanwhile, in Durban’s Commercial Crimes Court on Friday, another official from the KZN Premier’s Office and three service providers appeared for alleged tender fraud. The case is related to a R24m catering tender in which five other officials were arrested earlier this year.

KZN Hawks spokesperson Captain Simphiwe Mhlongo confirmed that supply chain manager Nonhlanhla Pamela Hlongwa appeared along with service providers Ashley Mervyn Rose, Ntombipela Majozi and Sybil Nompumelelo Motaung.

Hlongwa was granted R5 000 bail, while two of the service providers were granted R10 000 each and the third provider, R20 000.

The four are to reappear in April. In July, the five arrests related to the same tender included chief financial officer Zipathe Cibane; the premier’s personal assistant, Nomusa Zwane; senior administration officer Sithembiso Msomi; administration clerk Njabulo Makhathini; and Gugu Kheswa, a director of Phumulanga Communications.

It is alleged the officials manipulated procurement processes in favour of certain providers.

Lennox Mabaso, spokesperson for Premier Sihle Zikalala, said some of the officials had already been suspended and that the premier was committed to “good and clean governance”.

Asbestos tender fraud

And in Bloemfontein on Friday, the appearance of the seven accused came after a week of high drama that saw the Hawks and the NPA make a number of arrests when they swooped in three provinces in a case related to the R255m asbestos tender in the Free State.

Law enforcement agencies and the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) on Friday attached the properties of senior politicians, officials and businesspeople, valued at R300m, after the seven accused appeared and were granted bail at the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court. They received bail ranging from R50 000 to R500 000 after the arrest of six of the seven on Wednesday by the Hawks.

The charges included fraud, theft, attempted theft, corruption and money laundering, among others.

NPA spokesperson Sipho Ngwema said magistrate Mxolisi Saliwa made the ruling after the prosecution team did not oppose bail but insisted that it be set high given the seriousness of the offences.

“The court released Edwin Sodi of Bryanston, Johannesburg, and owner of Blackhead Consulting on R500 000 bail,” said Ngwema.

Sodi’s co-accused Nthimotse Mokhesi, head of the Free State Department of Human Settlements; Sello Radebe, a Johannesburg businessman; Thabane Zulu a former director-general of the national Department of Human Settlements; and Olly Mlamleli, the former Free State MEC of Human Settlements and former Mangaung mayor, were granted R100 000 bail each.

Ngwema said John Matlakala, director of supply chain management at the Human Settlements Department, and Abel Kgotso Manyeki, a Pretoria businessman were released on R50 000.

They appeared with five companies, Blackhead Consulting, Diamond Hill Trading, 605 Consulting Solutions, Mastertrade 232, and Ori Group.

Independent On Saturday