Bongani and his co-defendant appeared briefly in Nelspruit Commercial Crimes Court for pre-trial on Friday, April 1, 2022.
Once the issues were resolved, a trial date was set for November 8-25, 2022, at which time Bongo and his co-defendants will submit a plea explanation.
The State will then present its arguments in an attempt to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendants are guilty of 69 counts, which include, among others, corruption, fraud, theft, money laundering money and contravention of the Public Financial Administration Act.
Initially, the state was set to go to trial on January 10, 2022, but the case was postponed after some of the defendants changed legal representatives.
The co-defendants standing next to Bongo in the dock were Robert Barwise, 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, Sibongile Mercy Mdaka and Sandile Nkosi.
The following companies, Little River Trading 156 (Pty) Ltd, Broad Market Trading 204 Pty Ltd, Bongiveli CC and Pfuka Afrika CC are also accused.
The case stems from allegations relating to a R37.5 million sale and purchase of a farm in Naauwpoort, eMalahleni by the Department of Human Settlements (DoHS). The State argues that this was allegedly done on behalf of Emalahleni Municipality.
The State also contends that the alleged irregularity took place while Bongo was head of the legal services of the Department of Human Settlements in Mpumalanga and the figure at their heart is the lawyer Blessing Singwane.
Explaining the seriousness of the charges against the defendant, Mpumalanga National Prosecuting Authority regional spokeswoman Monica Nyuswa claimed that Singwane and his co-defendant conspired to defraud the DoHS in the sale of the two farms, these being the Naupoort farm belonging to Johan van Tonder and the Fremax. Cultivate.
“Certain of the defendants, acting in concert with common purpose, exploited the normal phenomenon of government land purchases by misrepresenting facts to the State (DoHS) regarding ownership and the true sale price,” she said.
According to the indictment, the real owner of the Naupoort farm, Petrus Johannes Van Tonder, was paid 15 million rand of the 37.5 million rand.
“The balance of the money would have been paid into the trust account of Singwane’s lawyers, in their capacity as agents appointed by the department. Van Tonder reportedly paid a R15 million commission to Pam Golding as estate agent for the transaction.
“Singwane, not mandated by the department, allegedly paid R22.5 million to Little River Trading, which enabled the defendant to successfully steal the money,” the state alleges.
The indictment also related to the transaction in which Bongiveli allegedly entered into the sale and purchase agreement with Fremax Farms, for part of Rietspruit for an amount of R10.5 million. But Msukaligwa Local Municipality’s valuation of the Rietspruit part of the farm is said to be R1.6 million.
“In March 2022, the Department of Human Settlements paid over R52 million to Singwane. Subsequently, the law firm provided Freemax with a guarantee of R15.6 million. Ownership was then transferred to Bongiveli from Msukaligwa Municipality and the company became the owner of the farm.
“The farm was sold back to the DoHS for R32 million and fell outside the municipality’s spatial development plan and is therefore not classified for human settlements. To date, it has not been proclaimed as a township,” Nyuswa said.
Regarding Bongo’s role, the State asserts that he was the head of the legal section of the DoHS at the time and that he was part of the committee appointed by the then head of the department to negotiate the purchase of the farms.
“Bongo recommended the appointment of Singwane attorneys as transfer agents for the department in the purchase of these farms. Singwane’s lawyers allegedly paid Bongo R1 million through his wife’s business accounts and additionally paid deposits for two vehicles registered under the name of his brother Sipho Bongo,” the state further claims.
This is not the first time that Bongo has been taken to court. In February, Bongo was acquitted of another corruption charge over allegations that he tried to bribe a witness to frustrate parliament’s investigation into wrongdoing at Eskom.
All defendants are released on bail provided they do not interfere with state witnesses.
Magistrate Deon van Rooyen adjourned the case to November 8-25, 2022 for trial in the same court.
Under the terms of the ANC’s separation resolution, Bongo was removed from his position as chairman of the Parliament’s Home Affairs Portfolio Committee in August 2021.
bongo confirmed last year that he had been suspended and placed on extended leave from parliament.
He remains an ordinary MP, according to ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina. She told the Daily Maverick on Friday: ‘He is not on leave, he attends every meeting, he attends the plenary… …he has only been furloughed…. he does his job within the guidelines of the ANC – step aside. ”
See here Marianne Merten’s article on the paradox of the ANC withdrawal rule.
Paradox of ‘stepping down’ – ANC lawmakers are still required in the House to vote, but not to speak