A lengthy state ban on international consultancy giant; a former cabinet minister and member of parliament in court, multiple arrests in the North West transport scandal and changes to the final state capture report. All developments making headlines recently as the wheels of justice begin to turn in government’s response to the findings and recommendations of the state capture commission.
No state tenders for 10 years
International management consulting firm Bain and Company has been slapped with a ban that bars it from doing business with the South African government for the next 10 years. This was announced by National Treasury last week. It also follows shortly after a similar sanction of a three-year ban by the UK government. Treasury cited Bain’s “corrupt and fraudulent practices at the South African Revenue Service (Sars)” during the term of former commissioner Tom Moyane.
The state capture commission, chaired by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, heard oral evidence from former Bain consultant Athol Williams in 2020 that the company engineered its entry into Sars through meetings with former president Jacob Zuma, months before the revenue service was to undergo leadership changes. Its management consulting services to Sars cost around R160-million over a period of three years, after several alleged irregular extensions of its initial contract, entered into just after Moyane took office.
Bain has responded to the ban via a statement in which the company acknowledges its “mistakes”, but disagrees with the sanction.
“We are embarrassed that this could have occurred in the first place and are angry that our work was used by others to damage a critical institution and SA,” the company’s statement read.
Vrede dairy farm charges for Zwane
One of the most instrumental people in the state capture project, according to Zondo, former minister of mineral resources Mosebenzi Zwane, was released on R10 000 bail at the end of September, having appeared before the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court. Alongside him appeared former Sahara Computers employee Ugeshni Govender and Ronica Ragavan, who is a close associate of the Gupta family. The three are charged with fraud, theft, corruption and money laundering in relation to the R280-million Estina Dairy Farm project in the Free State, which Zondo heard evidence on.
Zwane, who is currently a member of parliament for the ANC, handed himself over to the police on 28 September. The project saw the Free State government pay Gupta-linked company the money to facilitate the start-up of a dairy farm that was meant to benefit small-scale farmers in the area of Vrede. According to evidence heard before the commission, hardly any work was done by Estina, and most of the money paid ended up in a money laundering arrangement with international links.
While Zwane was the provincial MEC for agriculture at the time, suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule was the premier. Magashule too has been charged in relation to a separate project that also featured in Zondo’s report, which related to asbestos eradication in Free State townships. A bail condition of Zwane’s is that his passports be handed over, to avoid him travelling out of the country while on bail. His next appearance is on 2 November.
SA Express graft accused in the dock
In another development relating to corruption within the recently liquidated SA Express (SAX), four people including an official of the department of transport in the North West, were arrested on 30 September by the province’s division of the Hawks.
Thabang Mohlokoleng signed off on a R400-million project on behalf of North West transport, that would see commercial flights being reintroduced to and from the province’s Mahikeng and Pilanesberg airports. SAX was appointed to be the carrier, but the deal allegedly did not follow the correct tender processes. Tebogo van Wyk, who was the general manager for commercial services at SAX at the time, was also arrested, along with his alleged private business associates Nothando Dube and Sipho Phiri.
The project was to receive a national subsidy over a period of three years, but did not take off, despite the first tranche having been released. “An amount of R183-million was then paid to SA Express between 2015 and 20167 for the services of rendered by ground management companies, which Van Wyk, Dube and Phiri are linked to,” said National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Henry Mathomane.
Van Wyk was accused by businesswoman Babadi Tlatsana before the commission of engineering a plan to enrich himself and several prominent politicians through the project. Tlatsana was awarded a ground handling contract for both airports, but said Van Wyk swindled her out of the money that was meant for her company, Koreneka Trading and Projects.
Van Wyk was granted bail of R500 000. Dube, Phiri and Mohlokoleng were released on bail of R35 000, R150 000 and R50 000 respectively.
No changes to substance, findings, Zondo told
While all these developments occur, the North Gauteng High Court on Thursday granted Zondo permission to make changes to his final report, the last instalment of which was released publicly in June. The commission chair has until 10 October to make the changes, which he has described as not going to prejudice anyone. The amended report was released on 12 October.
The corrections will apply to volumes two and three of the report, which were handed to President Cyril Ramaphosa on 22 June, and formed part of the findings dealing with the Estina dairy farm project and alleged corruption at the State Security Agency, among other sections. Zondo has previously stated that there are also corrections to be made to figures pertaining to the forensic investigation into the Gupta family’s alleged money laundering scheme, submitted by Shadow World investigators. Deputy Judge President Aubrey Ledwaba said the changes may not affect the substance, findings and recommendations in the original report.
In other news
Notably, 7 October 2022 marks the day former president Jacob Zuma would have been released from prison had he served his full sentence of 15 months that was handed down by the Constitutional Court in June last year.
Zuma was taken into custody on 7 July 2021 after he was sentenced following a guilty verdict against him for contempt, following his refusal to appear before the state capture commission as instructed by a summons. He was, however, released in September on a controversial medical parole decided by correctional services commissioner Arthur Fraser.