Bernadette Wicks
Senior court reporter
3 minute read
7 Dec 2021
12:01 pm

Ex-Gauteng health MEC Brian Hlongwa, co-accused granted bail in corruption case

Bernadette Wicks

Hlongwa and his co-accused, among them his wife, face more than 250 counts of fraud, corruption, racketeering and money laundering.

Brian Hlongwa, centre, with his co-accused, who face over 250 counts of fraud, corruption and money laundering, among other charges. Picture: citizen.co.za/Bernadette Wicks

Former Gauteng health MEC and ANC chief whip Brian Hlongwa, as well as seven other individuals – among them his wife Joeline Davids-Hlongwa – have been granted bail of varying amounts between R20,000 and R50,000.

Hlongwa and his co-accused on Tuesday made their first appearance at the Johannesburg Regional Court.

They face more than 250 counts of racketeering, fraud, corruption, benefitting from the proceeds of crime and money laundering.

This is in connection with graft allegations dating back more than a decade, to when Hlongwa was still at the helm of the province’s health department.

ALSO READ: Former GP MEC Brian Hlongwa to be arrested for decade old graft claims

A Special Investigating Unit (SIU) report made public in 2018 fingered Hlongwa in allegations that a company called 3P Consulting – owned by businessman Richard Payne, a known associate of Hlongwa’s – and various linked entities awarded R1.2 billion worth of government contracts in exchange for providing civil servants with kickbacks.

Hlongwa resigned from his position as the ANC’s chief whip in the province the same year the report was publicly released, but despite pressure from civil society, he had not faced any criminal consequences up until now.

He was formally arrested earlier on Tuesday morning, after handing himself over to police at the Johannesburg Central Police Station.

The case he now faces relates to, among others, a contract to establish a project management unit.

ALSO READ: Brian Hlongwa, wife hand themselves over to police – sources

Bogus project management unit

After it had already been awarded tenders to compile the department’s 2007-2008 budget and to develop a turnaround strategy, 3P Consulting apparently came up with the idea to establish the project management unit itself, and then scooped the tender for this work, via a consortium it was a part of.

Further, the contract for the establishment of the project management unit was awarded at an initial value of R68 million a year for a two-year period, but the department ended up forking out over R340 million.

The state did not oppose bail for Hlongwa and his co-accused on Tuesday.

State advocate Raymond Mathenjwa did, however, ask the court to set bail at R50,000 per accused, “taking into account the gravity of the offence as well as the possible punishment the accused may receive if convicted”.

Ultimately, Magistrate Simon Radasi found the accused had shown the interests of justice warranted their release. He set their bail at different amounts, though.

ALSO READ: Court documents expose Brian Hlongwa-linked company’s corruption

Hlongwa’s co-accused in the case include his wife, as well as:

  • Payne
  • Businessman Reatile Kingdom Lolwane
  • Businessman Maghanderen Niven Pillay
  • Former director of the executive support programme at the department, Obakeng Stephen Mookeletsi
  • Former head of department Sybil Nomhle Ngcobo
  • Former director of supply-chain management at the department Valdis Ntsieni Ramaano
  • Former head of department Abul Kalam Mohammed Mahmudur Rahman

Seven entities have also been charged alongside the individuals:

  • 3P Consulting
  • Ukwakwa Design
  • Midnight Masquerade Properties
  • Golden Pond Trading
  • Brisigo Properties
  • Regiments Healthcare
  • Ergold Properties

Payne was not in court on Tuesday as he was out of the country. Extradition proceedings are, however, currently underway.

Last year, Ngcobo, Romaano and Mookeletsi were arrested and charged with corruption and contravening the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) in a separate case relating to an allegedly dodgy IT contract.

Payne was also meant to be arrested over that case but was – again – out of the country at the time.

Hawks head Lieutenant-General Godfrey Lebeya has applauded the team behind Tuesday’s arrests.

“Although this investigation had challenges of its own, I am satisfied that our prioritisation has resulted in securing the attendance of the accused who shall also face the charge of pattern of racketeering activity which is in general terms organised crime.

“The investigation team and prosecutors are commended for the efforts invested in the matter since prioritisation,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.

The case is due back in court in April.