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Compiled by Devina Haripersad

Senior Business/Finance journalist

Former Fort Hare SRC member implicated in tender empire, targeted killings

With the help of an UFH official, he was allegedly able to secure several contracts fraudulently.

An investigation by News24 has revealed that former University of Fort Hare (UFH) student leader, Sicelo Mbulawa, allegedly played a key role in a scheme to extract millions of Rands through corrupt supplier contracts at the institution, while studying towards his degree.

Meanwhile, five individuals, including Mbulawa, are facing charges in relation to a series of targeted killings that occurred at the Eastern Cape university. The victims of these attacks were Petrus Roets, a fleet manager, and Mboneli Vesele, who served as the bodyguard for vice-chancellor Professor Sakhela Buhlungu.

Over the weekend, Mbulawa was taken into custody along with two UFH employees, Bongani Peter and Wanini Khuza, as well as an alleged perpetrator, Mthobisi Khanyile. On Tuesday, Mbulawa appeared in court for the first time.

ALSO READ: Fort Hare University murders: Case against five accused postponed

According to News24, Mbulawa established a company, Mbulawa Legends South Africa, in 2016, and with the help of UFH official Eleanor “Mumsy” Feni, allegedly manipulated the university’s procurement system, securing several contracts from the institution.

It was alleged that Feni played an active role in the process, rigging bids to ensure Mbulawa’s company was awarded the contracts, by manipulating the cover quoting method to assist Mbulawa to win the bid.

Competitive pricing

The report presented evidence where Feni allegedly submitted several quotes from businesses to indicate competitive pricing – a common practice in the corporate world.

This is often done when someone asks for quotes from multiple companies, but actually only plans to award the contract to a specific company. They do this to make it look like there’s competition, but really they just want to make sure the chosen company gets a higher price.

The report claimed that according to emails, it was revealed that Feni even once received a notification about the budget being depleted and that only R7 500 was left. Following this, Feni allegedly adjusted a quote from Mbulawa Legends to match the exact amount.

Eventually, Mbulawa Legends was awarded the contract, and a purchase order was sent to them a few days later.

ALSO READ: Bodyguard of University of Fort Hare vice-chancellor shot dead in ‘assassination attempt’

Murder charges

The charges against Mbulawa and his co-accused include involvement in the murders of Roets and Vesele, as well as the attempted murder of Buhlungu and UFH Professor Renuka Vithal.

In addition to these charges, Mbulawa is also accused of fraud and corruption, as per the charge sheet.

As per Mbulawa’s attorney, Asanda Pakade, Mbulawa refutes any suggestion of impropriety in his business dealings and regards it as a “complete fabrication of facts and events in its entirety”.

Pakade contested that Mbulawa is being charged with fraud and corruption as well.

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