DA lays charges against deputy finance minister


DA lays charges against deputy finance minister

Published Date: 2017-06-10 | Source: Fin24 | Author: Jan Gerber

DA lays charges against deputy finance minister

There appears to be an attempt to cover up corruption at rail agency Prasa, DA MP Manny de Freitas said on Friday.

He laid charges of corruption against Deputy Finance Minster Sfiso Buthelezi, for allegedly having benefited from tenders awarded to Prasa, at the Cape Town Central police station in Buitenkant Street.

De Freitas said he was concerned about what he said appeared to be a cover-up, as Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi seemingly wanted to suspend the Prasa board.

He said the board was working hard to investigate alleged corruption at the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa), which had been laid out in former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's report, entitled Derailed, released in August 2015.

On Monday, News24 reported that Buthelezi and his brother had interests in companies that secured contracts worth at least R150m from Prasa and its suppliers. Buthelezi was board chairperson of the troubled state-owned rail operator at the time.

Buthelezi denies allegations

Swifambo Rail Leasing, the supplier of Prasa's controversial Afro 4000 locomotives, appointed Inala Shipping - a company 100% owned by the deputy minister's brother Nkanyiso Buthelezi - to manage the shipping and logistics for the importing of the trains.

Inala then appointed Sebenza Forwarding and Shipping, a company in which Sfiso Buthelezi is an ultimate beneficiary, to handle the customs clearing portion of importing the Spanish-built locomotives in 2014 and 2015.

Buthelezi said he had noted this report "with utter dismay and deep disappointment". He denied any wrongdoing and said he had never used his position as chairperson of the Prasa board to influence procurement decisions in favour of any company associated with him or his family.

De Freitas said there appeared to be a clear case of corruption implicating Buthelezi. He laid the criminal charges in terms of the Prevention of Combating of Corrupt Activities Act.

"In terms of the act, Buthelezi could be guilty of the general offence of corruption, an offence in respect of contracts, an offence in respect of tenders and an offence relating to private interests in public contracts," he said in a statement.

Call for probe into state capture

The DA had written to Parliament's transport committee chairperson, Dikeledi Magadzi, to ask her to call the Hawks to provide an update on its investigation into Prasa. 

"It is shocking how many criminal investigations are yet to be completed, and the Hawks are long overdue in updating Parliament," De Freitas said.

DA MP and spokesperson Phumzile van Damme, who accompanied De Freitas, said they had asked the station commander for an update on the charges laid against President Jacob Zuma, the Gupta brothers, and others. DA leader Mmusi Maimane laid these last week, in the wake of the revelations contained in the leaked Gupta emails.

The party proposed that a parliamentary ad hoc committee be established to investigate state capture. Van Damme said this suggestion appeared to enjoy broad support from other political parties. The proposal had been referred to Parliament's programming committee.

Meanwhile, the EFF was on Friday laying charges of corruption against Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba.