MP Bongani Bongo and 10 others granted bail at Nelspruit Magistrate’s Court

MBOMBELA – Former Minister of State Security, Bongani Thomas Bongo, and ten others appeared briefly in the Nelspruit Magistrates’ Court on charges of corruption, fraud, theft, money laundering and contravention of the Public Finance Management Act yesterday.

Robert Burwise, Patrick Donald Chirwa, Harrington Sizwakhendaba Dhlamini, Blessing Mduduzi Singwane, David Boy Dube, Sipho Joel Bongo, Vusi Willem Magagula, Bongani Louis Henry Sibiya, Elmon Lawrence Mdaka, and Sibongile Mercy Mdaka were reported to the DPCI investigating team and were charged yesterday together with four companies. They face 69 counts.

The companies are: The Little River Trading 156 (Pty) Ltd, Broad Market Trading 204 (Pty) Ltd, Bongiveli CC, and Pfuka Afrika CC. The allegations are in connection with the R37.5m sale and purchase of a farm in Naauwpoort by the Mpumalanga Department of Human Settlement.

READ: A senior government official among 11 suspects for alleged corruption

“The real owner of the farm, Petrus Johannes Van Tonder, was paid only R15m for the farm from the R37.5m. The money was paid into the trust account of Singwane Attorneys, in their capacity as conveyancer appointed by the department. Van Tonder paid R1.5m commission to Pam Golding as estate agents for the transaction. Singwane, not instructed by the department, paid R22.5m to Little River Trading, which enabled the accused to successfully steal the money,” said NPA spokesperson Sipho Ngwema.

In another transaction, Bongiveli entered into a sale and purchase agreement with Fremax Farms for a portion of Rietspruit, for an amount of R10.5m. However, Msukaligwa Local Municipality valuation of the portion of the Rietspruit farm was valued at R1.6m. Little River paid R1.5m as deposit for the farm and Bongiveli had to deliver a guarantee issued by a bank or financial institution for payment of the balance of the purchase price on or before 31 May 2011.

“In turn, some of the accused, as members of Pfuka Afrika CC, received commission of R4.5m. In March 2011 the DoHS, Msukaligwa Municipality and Bongiveli entered into a sale and purchase agreement for Rietspruit Farm. When the said sale and purchase agreement was signed, Bongiveli was not the owner of the farm and there was no departmental approval to purchase the farm. The Msukaligwa Local Municipality valuation of the portion of the Rietspruit farm was valued at R1.6m,” Ngwenya added.

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In March 2011, the DoHS paid over R52m to Singwane. Subsequently, the law firm furnished Freemax with a guarantee of R15.6m. The property was then transferred to Bongiveli from Msukaligwa Municipality, and the company became the owner of the farm. The farm was sold back to DoHS for R32m. The farms fell out of the Spatial Development Plan for the municipality and therefore not categorised for human settlement. To date it has not been proclaimed as a township.

It is alleged that some of the accused received kickbacks of cash and cars, among others, from some of the entities involved in the transactions. The two Bongo brothers were released on R10 000 bail and they were warned to appear 04 March 2021. The court will resume shortly to hear the bail applications of the rest of the accused.

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