NATIONAL NEWS - The chairperson of the portfolio committee on home affairs, Bongani Bongo, has been granted bail of R10 000 after he appeared in the Mbombela Magistrate’s Court in Mpumalanga on Wednesday.
Bongo and 10 other suspects, including his brother, Sipho, were arrested in connection with dubious land deals amounting to almost R124 million on Tuesday after it was alleged that land prices were inflated in exchange for kickbacks.
They face charges of corruption, fraud, theft, money laundering and contravention of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).
The other suspects, Robert Burwise, Patrick Donald Chirwa, Harrington Sizwakhendaba Dhlamini, Blessing Mduduzi Singwane, David Boy Dube, Vusi Willem Magagula, Bongani Louis Henry Sibiya, Elmon Lawrence Mdaka and Sibongile Mercy Mdaka were charged earlier on Tuesday together with four companies and face 69 counts.
Companies implicated in the matter include the Little River Trading 156 (Pty) Ltd, Broad Market Trading 204 (Pty) Ltd, Bongiveli CC and Pfuka Afrika CC.
Bongo and his brother were granted R10 000 bail by the court, with the case being postponed to 4 March 2021.
The court will resume shortly to hear the bail applications of the rest of the accused, NPA spokesperson Sipho Ngwema confirmed.
Ngwema said the allegations against the accused were in connection with the R37.5 million sale and purchase of a farm Naauwpoort at Emalahleni by the Mpumalanga department of human settlement.
This was ostensibly on behalf of eMalahleni Municipality, Ngwema said.
He said the some of the accused exploited the normal practice of purchase of land by the government by misrepresenting facts to the department regarding ownership and true sale price of the farm, Naauwpoort.
Ngwema said the real owner of the farm, Petrus Johannes van Tonder, was paid only R15 million for the farm from the R37.5 million.
“The money was paid into the trust account of Singwane Attorneys in their capacity as conveyancers appointed by the department.
“Van Tonder paid R1.5 million commission to Pam Golding, estate agents for the transaction. Singwane, not instructed by the department, paid R22.5 million to Little River Trading which enabled the accused to successfully steal the money.
“In another transaction, Bongiveli entered into a sale and purchase agreement with Fremax Farms for a portion of Rietspruit for an amount of R10.5 million.
“However, Msukaligwa Local Municipality valued the portion of the Rietspruit farm at R1.6 million.
“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 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 approval by the department to purchase the farm.
“The Msukaligwa Local Municipality valued the portion of the Rietspruit farm at R1.6m.”
Ngwema further said that the department of human settlements paid R52 884 384.00 to Singwane in March 2011 while the law firm furnished Freemax with a guarantee of R15 661 018.59.
“The property was then transferred to Bongiveli from Msugalikwa Municipality and the company became the owner of the farm.
“The farm was sold back to the department for R32 million. 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 a township.”