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By Eric Naki

Political Editor

Sbu Ndebele may not be off the hook yet

As transport minister, Ndebele allegedly took a R10m bribe from Tasima, but there are reports his case may be dropped.

The corruption case against former transport minister and South African high commissioner to Australia Sbu Ndebele will not be withdrawn, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said yesterday.

As then transport minister, Ndebele allegedly took a R10 million bribe from Tasima, a service provider contracted to run the electronic National Traffic Information System (eNatis).

He was allegedly bribed to ensure that the unlawful contract, worth more than R2 billion, was extended. Ndebele, who resigned in October from his diplomatic job, faces fraud, corruption and money laundering charges, including contravening the Public Finance Management Act.

His co-accused include former transport department director-general George Mahlalela, Zakhele Thwala, Tebogo Mphuthi and Justin Ncube.

Ndebele, out on R10 000 bail, and his co-accused are to appear again before the commercial crimes court in Pretoria on Thursday. NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku yesterday said the prosecutor handling the matter would ask for a postponement to consider representations submitted by Ndebele’s lawyers.

According to Mfaku, the lawyers in mid-February wrote to the NPA’s specialised commercial crimes unit head, advocate Marshall Mokgantlhe, requesting their client’s particulars.

City Press had reported over the weekend that Ndebele’s case was to be withdrawn, following his complaint to President Jacob Zuma about political interference in the matter.

It quoted three senior sources as saying a senior minister was to “mediate” between the defence and prosecution to avert the possibility of an embarrassment.

The newspaper also reported on e-mails and an investigating officer’s diary, showing how National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams, Road Traffic Management Corporation CEO Makhosini Msibi, the Special Investigating Unit and Hawks Anti-corruption Task Team head Major-General Zinhle Mnonopi had pressured the prosecutor and investigating officer to rush Ndebele’s arrest.

They wanted Ndebele and his co-accused arrested to strengthen their civil case against Tasima, which was before the Supreme Court of Appeal. But Mfaku yesterday dismissed the suggestion of a withdrawal.

“No charges will be withdrawn. The prosecutor will indicate in court on Thursday that we have received further representation from the lawyers of the accused,asking for further particulars, which we are considering. He will, therefore, ask postponement until this process is eventually finalised,” Mfaku said.

“The prosecutors are working on those representations, requiring more time. So, they’ll request a postponement to deal with the representations.”

Asked about the possible withdrawal of the case, Mfaku said the prosecutor had rejected any suggestion of withdrawing the case.

– ericn@citizen.co.za

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