‘Give looters jail, R200m fine’ recommends Zondo

Zondo continued naming names in his second report – making damning findings against ministers, and other state owned entreprise bosses.

Abuse of public power per se was not a criminal offence, acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo said in his second report on State Capture on Tuesday, suggesting it was time to make it so with incredibly stiff penalties.

Potential violations could include “a president who hands a large portion of the national wealth, or access to that wealth, to an unauthorised recipient, to the junior official who suspends a colleague out of motives of envy or revenge”.

Zondo’s proposal?

“Any person who exercises or purports to exercise any public power, including any such power vested in such person by the constitution, national or provincial legislation… or by municipal bylaw … shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine of up to R200 million or imprisonment for up to 20 years – or to both such fine and imprisonment.”

Zondo continued naming names in his second report – making damning findings against the likes of former public enterprises minister Malusi Gigaba and ex-Transnet bigwigs Anoj Singh, Siyabonga Gama and – once again – Brian Molefe, over their alleged dodgy dealings at the state-owned transport and logistics company.

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He recommended all four – and several others – be investigated in connection with possible charges of corruption and racketeering over payments they allegedly received on visits to the Gupta compound in Saxonwold. He also recommended Molefe, Singh and Gama be investigated over other potential charges – including fraud, corruption, racketeering, contravening the Public Finance Management Act and offences related to the proceeds of unlawful activities.

  • His recommendations also included that the authorities investigate the reinstatement of Gama after he was dismissed for misconduct in 2010. This, as he tellingly states, was at the instance of former president Jacob Zuma, then former Transnet board chair Mafika Mkhwanazi and Gigaba; and Zondo recommended a probe into whether
    Gama was improperly induced.
  • In addition, they included investigations into known Gupta associate Salim Essa over, among others, a total of R7.34 billion worth of alleged kickbacks his companies and companies linked to the Guptas allegedly received through dealings with Transnet.
  • There was little mercy for former public enterprises minister Lynne Brown from Zondo as he tore into her explanation for appointing Daniel Mantsha to chair the Denel board.

“Surely, a prudent minister would have had nothing to do with bringing an attorney who had been struck off the roll of attorneys for something to do with his trust account into the board of an SOE, not to mention making him the chair of the board,” Zondo said.

“Were there no attorneys who had never been struck off the roll, if the board required an attorney?” Zondo noted Gauteng had “thousands” of attorneys.

“Did Mr Mantsha have any particular good experience or expertise? No. So why did Minister Brown choose him,” Zondo asked.

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He said it would have been simple to find out an attorney’s history and that she did not do her homework in this regard, was an “indication she must have been given his name by the Guptas”.

  • Zondo said Mantsha was central to the Gupta scheme to capture Denel. “Mr Mantsha almost certainly anticipated that, as the Guptas strengthened their grip on the South African state, he would be rewarded by access to positions of power and the fleshpots of power.”
  • Zondo recommended law enforcement agencies conduct further investigations into the Denel board.

“The first step was to remove control of Denel from the hands of a competent and honest board,” said Zondo.

The cover for this was the end of terms of office of the members of the 2011 board.

“By then the Guptas had taken control of VR Laser. Their cover was in place,” Zondo noted, “The evidence shows quite conclusively that the means used by Minister Brown to replace the members of the 2011 board with her own appointees excluded the department of public enterprises officials from any input into the process and ensured no criticisms of Minister Brown’s appointees.”

Additional reporting by Amanda Watson.