A forensic investigator has told the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture the R88 million allegedly paid to the ANC in 2013 by Swifambo Rail Leasing director Auswell Mashaba after his company was awarded a R3.5 billion contract by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) to deliver locomotives was, in fact, never received by the party.
Marc Sacks, a director of Crowe Forensics SA, told the commission on Thursday shortly after Swifambo was awarded the tender Mashaba was approached by Angolan businesswoman Maria Gomes and attorney George Sabela who put him “under pressure” to donate R88 million to the ANC after they claimed to be fundraisers for the governing party.
Sacks was roped in to investigate the flow of funds in connection with Prasa’s irregular contracts with Swifambo on behalf of law firm Werksmans Attorneys and the Hawks. He told the commission Mashaba caved in to Gomes’ and Sabela’s demands.
They allegedly told Mashaba that of the R88 million to be “donated” to the ANC, he would receive R8 million as a “handling fee” for facilitating the donation. R80 million would be then be dispersed to Gomes and Sabela who were to transfer the funds to the ANC.
But this was not to be, according to Sacks. He said the ANC never received the remaining R79.4 million unlawfully received by Gomes and Sabela.
“He had agreed to pay R88 million, Mr Mashaba, but he was going to charge a handling fee. And so the amount that was going to go to the ANC was R88 million. His handling fee was going to be R8 million,” said the commission’s evidence leader, advocate Vas Soni.
Soni asked Sacks: “Do you know where that R8 million was going to come from?”
“The R8 million came from Prasa chairperson,” Sacks said in response.
‘Forced to pay money’
Mashaba. who defied a summons to appear before the commission on Wednesday, had previously admitted in an affidavit to the inquiry he was “forced to pay money to people who said they were collecting money for the ANC”.
The businessman said he didn’t know if the ANC ever received the R88 million as the person he gave the money to indicated he never handed the money to the party.
In November last year, former Prasa CEO Lucky Montana claimed that Zweli Mkhize, during his tenure as ANC treasurer-general, provided Gomes with bank account details to deposit the donation from Swifambo.
Mkhize has previously denied the allegations.
His spokesperson, Lwazi Manzi, said in a statement on 10 November 2020: “Dr Mkhize and the ANC have previously issued statements on this matter refuting the allegations that it had appointed individuals to receive and channel monies on behalf of the ANC, flowing from the Prasa Swifambo tender.
“In fact, in February 2018, Dr Mkhize also provided a statement to the public enterprise parliamentary portfolio committee chaired by Ms Zukiswa Rantho at the time, with a statement giving a detailed account and response to these unfounded and false allegations by Mr Montana.”
Watch the proceedings below, courtesy of the SABC News: