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Former state security minister Bongani Bongo is a free man

Bongo, who always maintained his innocence, saw the fraud and corruption charges against dropped recently.

The former state security minister, Bongani Bongo, and four of his co-accused were discharged by the Mbombela Commercial Crimes Court after the fraud and corruption charges against them were dropped on Friday May 10.

Bongo had always maintained that the case, especially against him, was politically driven and had always maintained his innocence.
Another political bigwig attached to this case, David Dube, was not discharged.

Dube previously served as the provincial ANC’s deputy chairperson. He was one of the politicians nominated by ANC branches to stand against David Mabuza for post of provincial chair at the 2015 provincial congress, but lost when Mabuza won all the votes.

He also threw the hat in the ring again in 2022, but didn’t receive enough votes to stand for nomination, leading to the conference to be a two-way race between the current chairperson, Mandla Ndlovu, and Lucky Ndinisa.

On Friday, the court discharged Bongo, Sandile Nkosi, Robert Burwise, Patrick Chirwa and Harrington Dhlamini. They were charged with six others, including Dube, and four entities, with 69 counts of fraud, theft, corruption and contravention of the Public Finance Management Act.

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The remaining accused are Dube, Blessing Singwane, Vusi Magagula, Bongani Sibiya, Elmon Mdaka and Sibongile Mdaka.

The allegations against the accused are in connection with the R37.5m purchase of a farm in Naauwpoort, eMalahleni, by the Department of Human Settlements, supposedly on behalf of the eMalahleni Local Municipality, dating back to 2011.

According to court papers, some of the accused allegedly exploited a purchase of land by the government by misrepresenting facts to the state regarding the ownership and true sale price of the farm.

The then owner of the farm, Petrus Johannes van Tonder, was allegedly paid R15m for the farm from the R37.5m. The balance of the money was allegedly paid into the trust account of Singwane Attorneys, in their capacity as conveyancers appointed by the department.

Van Tonder is said to have allegedly paid R1.5m commission to Pam Golding, the estate agent for the transaction.

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Singwane Attorneys allegedly paid R22.5m to Little River Trading, which allegedly enabled the accused to lay their hands on the money. It is further alleged that Bongo was the head of the legal section of the Department of Human Settlements at the time and was part of the committee appointed by the then HOD, Dube, to negotiate the purchase of farms. The accused pleaded not guilty, with Bongo arguing that his case was politically motivated.

The accused applied for a discharge in terms of Section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Act, arguing that the State didn’t have a case that would warrant a conviction against them, hence the court’s recent decision.

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