Newsflash

Corruption charge against Bongo is ‘frivolous’, say fellow ANC MPs

By Sandisiwe Shoba 31 January 2020

ANC MP Bongani Bongo. (Photos: GCIS)

After being arrested in November last year, Bongani Bongo made his second appearance in court on Friday morning, for allegedly trying to bribe a member of the Eskom inquiry in late 2017. A handful of his fellow MPs who believe he’s innocent until proven guilty showed up to support him.

ANC MP Bongani Bongo made a brief appearance at the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on 31 January on a charge of corruption. 

The case was heard by Magistrate Louis Jacobus Human. 

Bongo, was accompanied by a few of his ANC comrades, including fellow Members of Parliament, Mosebenzi Zwane, chairperson of the transport portfolio committee and Supra Mahumapelo, former North West premier. 

“The charge against comrade Bongo is frivolous,” said Mahumapelo, speaking in his own capacity, outside court. 

He alleged, cryptically, that Bongo had fallen victim to a larger political plot brewing both internally and externally of the ANC to take down specific members of the party, and claimed that “information” would be released to the public in due course detailing who was responsible.

“(It) will show some of the politicians that are involved in mobilising particular individuals, sections of the media (and) mobilisation of money to make sure that some people are arrested, in order to resolve political challenges that are within the movement.” 

He did not clarify who was gathering this information or on whose authority this was being done. 

Bongo who did not speak to the media, first appeared at the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on 21 November 2019, the same day he was arrested by the Hawks, and was subsequently released on R5,000 bail. His bail conditions included that he should not interfere with witnesses in the case and should inform the investigating officer two weeks before any planned overseas travel.

Bongo is accused of trying to bribe Advocate Ntuthuzelo Vanara, evidence leader of the Parliament’s Public Enterprises committee inquiry into state capture at Eskom, in October 2017. 

He allegedly offered Vanara a blank cheque to halt the investigation and requested that the advocate “take sick leave on the day of the commencement of the commission with a view to derail proceedings”, Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi had told Daily Maverick in 2019

Vanara alerted his seniors to the ploy, which resulted in the Hawks investigation. 

The alleged bribery attempt was made during Bongo’s tenure as State Security minister. He was sworn in during October 2018 under Zuma’s administration but was subsequently axed during Ramaphosa’s Cabinet reshuffle in February 2018 and replaced by Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba. 

Since being released on bail, Bongo has continued to serve as chair of the Home Affairs Portfolio Committee. 

The charges were laid in 2017 by then DA Chief Whip, John Steenhuisen, in terms of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act (12 of 2004). 

On Friday Mahumapelo accused the DA of using “antics” to try and divide the ANC but said the party would remain “resolute”, nonetheless. 

Both Zwane and Mohumapelo have chequered pasts.

Zwane who served as Minister of Mineral resources under Zuma’s presidency is implicated in State Capture having paid over R200-million to the infamous Estina dairy project in Vrede, Free State, which sucked resources from local black farmers and communities who were meant to benefit but instead the funds were traced to the Guptas and used to finance a flashy family wedding at Sun City in 2013.

Mahumapelo stepped down as North West premier in May 2018 after a wave of violent protests ripped through Mahikeng. He was accused of corruption, which included giving Zuma a herd of cattle, in 2016, costing R1.5-million which was meant to go to small-scale farmers.  

Bongo’s case has been postponed to February 21 to arrange for the matter to be transferred to the Western Cape High Court. His bail has been extended. DM

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