The Democratic Alliance’s Jack Bloom has welcomed the news of former Gauteng health MEC Brian Hlongwa’s arrest, saying he feels vindicated.
Hlongwa, along with his wife, Joeline Davids-Hlongwa, and fellow former health officials Obakeng Stephen Mookeletsi, Sybil Nomhle Ngcobo, Valdis Ntsieni Ramaano and Abul Kalam Mohammed Mahmudur Rahman,
as well as businessmen Reatile Kingdom Lolwane and Maghanderen Niven Pillay appeared in the Johannesburg Regional Court on Tuesday.
His co-accused also include 3P Consulting, Ukwakwa Design, Midnight Masquerade Properties, Golden Pond Trading, Brisigo Properties, Regiments Healthcare and Ergold Properties.
Hlongwa and his co-accused face more than 250 counts, including racketeering, fraud, corruption, benefitting from the proceeds of crime and money laundering.
The accused handed themselves over to police on Tuesday. They were granted bail of R20 000 to R50 000.
Bloom, the DA’s shadow health MEC, has long called for Hlongwa to be held accountable and, in 2009, was suspended for five days from the Gauteng legislature after refusing to apologise for accusing him of corruption.
He said Hlongwa’s appearance in the dock was “long overdue”.
“I suspect the delay was due to political protection. I hope … finally justice is seen to be done with jail sentences for all those found guilty of corruption.
“Hlongwa’s legacy is a department that has never recovered from the looting and lack of controls while he was health MEC. A strong signal needs to be sent that crooked people will not get away with stealing public money.”
The case relates to allegations 3P Consulting, owned by Hlongwa’s associate Richard Payne, and various linked entities were awarded R1.2 billion worth of government contracts in exchange for kickbacks.
After being awarded tenders to compile the department’s 2007-8 budget and develop a turnaround strategy, 3P Consulting apparently mooted the establishment of a project management unit and then scooped the tender.
The contract was awarded at R68 million a year for two years, but the department forked out more than R340 million.
A Special Investigating Unit report found Hlongwa had received luxury spa treatments, trips and a multimillion-rand deposit on a plush Bryanston home from the allegedly dodgy dealings.
That year, he resigned as the ANC’s chief whip in the province. Payne is also listed as an accused but is not in the country.
Extradition proceedings are underway to secure his attendance in court in April.