Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni
Premium Journalist
3 minute read
25 Jul 2018
6:15 am

ANC took money from VBS, but was it really corruption?

Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni

Politically it makes sense for the DA to lay charges, but legally it will be extremely difficult to prove, legal experts say.

The DA's Jack Bloom outside Johannesburg Central Police Station. Picture: Thembelihle Mkhonza

The state will be hard pressed to prove the ANC was guilty of corruption for accepting a R250 000 donation from VBS Mutual Bank, legal experts said.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Monday laid charges of corruption against the ruling party, citing concern that by allegedly accepting donations from the embattled Limpopo bank, the ANC might have used dirty money from the proceeds of crime and corruption to fund its election campaigns in the past.

DA national spokesperson Solly Malatsi said the DA also feared if the allegations were true, they and other parties might lose the 2019 general elections to the ANC, due to its “corrupt” tendencies.

But advocate Mvuzo Notyesi said even if the bank was involved in criminal activity, the state would have to prove that the ANC was aware, at the time of receiving the money, that the funds were illegally obtained.

“First, they would need to establish intent on the part of the ANC to knowingly benefit from the proceeds of crime. If someone robs Standard Bank and then buys a car, that does not mean whoever sold it was knowingly benefiting from a crime.

“Second, VBS is a legally incorporated financial institution. It would be reasonable to assume any funds you receive from them are also legitimate. If you are a third party and indeed that money was proceeds of a crime, it must be proven that they knew that this was where the money was coming from.”

Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said while the DA’s tack made political sense, legally it would be a hard sell.

“Politically it makes sense for the DA to lay charges and raise concerns with the manner in which the ANC’s reluctance to adhere to good goverance has benefited the party. It’s clear that the path of state capture was paved by the ANC’s willingness to accept funding from those who unduly gained from taxpayers.

“It shows conflicting interests on the part of the ANC.

“Legally though, it will be difficult for the DA to prove the ANC accepted money while knowing VBS was engaged in illegal activities.”

According to Malatsi the payment was made on January 6 and marked “ANC gala dinner event”.

“The circumstances surrounding the gala dinner proved beyond any shadow of doubt that the ANC has a case to answer for. We have also received allegations that the directors of VBS’s majority shareholder through a front company called Vele Investments donated money to the ANC in exchange for support from the 15 municipalities. All the municipalities invested over R1.5 billion through controversial means,” said Malatsi.

“The IEC has a duty to keep a watchful eye on political parties to ensure that elections don’t only run smoothly, but that they are free and fair.

“The DA is therefore holding a belief that the IEC’s mandate in terms of section 5 of the Electoral Commission Act should include viewing our concerns in a very serious light and without further delay take action,” said Malatsi. “We are further concerned that Velile Present, an employee of Luthuli House, was arrested for alleged involvement in three cashin-transit heists.”

Yesterday, Present and his co-accused, Zakhele Zondi, Itumeleng Manama and Bheki Biyela, appeared in the Roodepoort Magistrate’s Court.

Spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority Pindile Louw-Mjonondwane said the three were charged with armed robbery and possession of hijacked vehicles.

The accused are currently in custody and are expected to appear again on July 31.

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