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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

Hawks dismiss claims of falling short in investigating Mbalula Dubai trip

Mbalula, who was sports minister at the time, took his family for a holiday in Dubai with a loan from a supplier to Sascoc

The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) or Hawks has dismissed claims by lobby group AfriForum that there were “shortfalls” in its investigation of Fikile Mbalula over a trip he and his family took to Dubai.

AfriForum is contesting the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) decision not to prosecute Mbalula over the controversial trip to the Emirates from December 2016 to January 2017.

The family holiday was paid for by Sedgars Sports, a sports clothing manufacturer, while Mbalula was South Africa’s sports minister. Sedgars Sports is owned by the Dockrat family.

AfriForum’s private prosecution unit spokesperson Barry Bateman said after a cursory inspection of the evidence, “it was abundantly clear the decision by the NPA not to prosecute Mbalula was irrational.”

“The evidence suggests collusion between witnesses and the SAPS; a failure to obtain statements from important witnesses and possible suspects; a failure to obtain valuable records and data; and poor cooperation between the Saps and prosecutors.”

Hawks diligent

However, Hawks spokesperson Colonel Katlego Mogale told The Citizen they investigated the matter surrounding Mbalula’s trip to Dubai.

“The members of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) did due diligence concerning the investigation.  The members gathered and followed all the leads hence the docket was thereafter referred for decision to the National Prosecuting Authority.

“The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) investigated the matter and sent the docket for decision,” Mogale said.

ALSO READ: Mbalula ‘politically shielded’ from Dubai trip prosecution – AfriForum

Mbalula must answer

Earlier this week, AfriForum’s private prosecution unit said it is even more convinced that Mbalula has a case to answer to after it collected the docket from SAPS headquarters after successfully filing a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application.

Bateman said the team will now closely study the docket.

 “Despite shortfalls, the evidence suggests Mbalula has several benefactors who fund his extravagant lifestyle. The question arises, why were these leads not followed up? Claims made in affidavits were accepted at face value and not scrutinised.

“Notably, a statement from one of Mbalula’s main benefactors was not included in the docket. We are shocked, but not surprised, because we warned the NPA of a clear conflict of interest because of the family relations with a senior NPA official. Mbalula’s matter may be the clearest case yet of selective prosecution, where a politically connected person and his well-to-do benefactors is sheltered from prosecution,

“Considering the poor investigation and irrational decision not to prosecute, it appears to us that Mbalula has been protected by the police and the NPA. This has only strengthened the unit’s resolve to ensure Mbalula has his day in court,” Bateman said.

ALSO READ: NPA decision not prosecute Mbalula ‘irrational and wrong in law’ – AfriForum

Mbalula innocent

Meanwhile, Mbalula has maintained his innocence following AfriForum’s decision to initiate a private prosecution against him regarding the Dubai trip.

Speaking during an ANC media briefing on Thursday, Mbalula criticised AfriForum for digging up his past.

“There is no scandal, it has been proven. That matter has been subjected to an investigation and there was a public pronouncement on it.

“Now if some overenthusiastic braggarts think they can get something out of it then let them proceed with it,” he told journalists.

The Citizen has asked the NPA to comment on the assertions made by AfriForum’s private prosecution unit. The response will be added once received.

Mkhwebane’s report

In 2019, then-public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane recommended that the NPA investigate whether the trip was funded with proceeds of money laundering.

A police docket was then registered at the Brooklyn police station.

The NPA, however, said it will not be prosecuting anyone in the case because there is no evidence of wrongdoing.

“A decision to decline to prosecute anyone in this matter was taken, as there is no evidence supporting allegations of criminal activity,” said NPA Gauteng spokesperson Lumka Mahanjana.

Mkhwebane’s report stated that Sedgars Sport had paid around R300,000 for the trip. The total cost of the trip was R680,000.

Dockrat family

The transaction was also controversial because the owners of Sedgars Sport are the Dockrat family.

The family had previously been accused of working with then Free State premier Ace Magashule to secure a R9.5-million tender to supply 30,000 soccer T-shirts and 20,000 blankets for the 2010 World Cup.

Sedgars was a supplier to the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc).

At the time, Mbalula claimed the money he received for the holiday was a loan, which he had repaid.

Additional reporting by Molefe Seeletsa

ALSO READ: Mbalula calls AfriForum ‘overenthusiastic braggarts’ after private prosecution for Dubai trip

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