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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

NPA decision not prosecute Mbalula ‘irrational and wrong in law’ – AfriForum

AfriForum said the NPA made a decision based on information that differs to the findings of the public protector.

Lobby group AfriForum said the decision by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) not to prosecute ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula over a trip he and his family took to Dubai from December 2016 to January 2017 appears to be “irrational and wrong in law”.

The NPA on Wednesday confirmed it will not prosecute Mbalula, or anyone else in the case, because there was no evidence of wrongdoing.

The family holiday was paid for by Sedgars Sports, a sports clothing manufacturer, while Mbalula was South Africa’s sports minister. Sedgars Sports is owned by the Dockrat family.

AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit spokesperson Barry Bateman said the NPA appears to have “uncritically accepted the version provided by Mbalula that the money was not a gift”.

“This is contrary to the findings of the public protector, who found after ‘having considered their submissions (Dockrat and Mbalula), I do not accept that the arrangement between them constituted a loan agreement. Had the transaction not been reported in the media, Mr. Mbalula would not have repaid the funds’,” Bateman said.

Reasons for not prosecuting

In a letter to the unit confirming the NPA’s decision, Gauteng Director of Public Prosecutions Advocate Sibongile Mzinyathi provided two reasons for not pursuing the case.

ALSO READ: ‘No evidence’: NPA will not prosecute Fikile Mbalula for Dubai holiday

First, he said the “gist of the evidence is that the money used to pay for the trip was a loan by a person in personal capacity to Mbalula. The loan of R300 000 was repaid in full with interest”.

The second reason Mzinyathi provides is “the investigation further looked into whether there was a quid pro quo between Mbalula, Reiman Uniforms and Sedgars Sport, and such could not be found”.

Decision flawed

Bateman said the decision by the NPA is flawed.

“The decision appears to be irrational and wrong in law. Nevertheless, this point would never have been reached without the constant pressure the unit has applied on the NPA to simply perform its duty.”

Bateman said it could be argued that Mbalula must have realised that the payments he received from Dockrat created a dynamic where the sports minister could be indebted to him.

Next move

Bateman added the AfriForum prosecution unit is determined to ensure the case is not swept aside.

“It took nearly four years for the NPA to make this decision. Such delay invariably prejudiced the chances of a successful prosecution. But this has not deterred the Private Prosecution Unit, which remains convinced that Mbalula has a criminal case to answer to.

“The unit will now carefully consider its next step to ultimately ensure that justice is done,” said Bateman.

ALSO READ: Mbalula ‘politically shielded’ from Dubai trip prosecution – AfriForum

The criminal case against Mbalula stems from a 2018 Public Protector report into Mbalula’s family holiday to Dubai, which referred the matter to the NPA.

It alleged the Dockrat family, through linked companies Sedgars Sport and Reimon Uniforms, paid for the politician’s family holiday.

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