The ANC appears to have celebrated a bit too early on their former Johannesburg housing MMC being acquitted on fraud charges says city mayor Herman Mashaba.
The ANC released a statement on Friday claiming their former MMC, Dan Bovu, had been acquitted on theft and corruption charges related to the illegal selling of city-owned property in Vlakfontein, south of Johannesburg, 11 years ago.
The ANC claimed the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) had decided there was insufficient evidence to prosecute Bovu. He had appeared at the Special Commercial Crimes Court on Friday and the matter was struck off the roll, according to ANC chief whip Solly Mogase.
According to Mogase, the matter could finally be laid to rest as the court had cleared the air.
Mashaba’s desk, however, issued a statement on Wednesday saying it was too early for the ANC to celebrate Bovu’s “acquittal”, and there was in fact no such thing.
“Upon investigating how Councillor Bovu could have possibly been acquitted, without the City as the complainant and owner of the land sold being consulted, we have come to learn that the case was withdrawn because of the material witnesses being unwilling to testify.”
The city says it’s a stretch to claim Bovu was found not guilty on all charges, as the allegations are still to be tested in court.
The city is in possession of an affidavit from a witness who was sold the land, confirming they were recently paid R43 000.
“These payments were facilitated through the very same Thembelihle Development Trust for which Councillor Bovu was a founding trustee, in the form of a R16 000 bank deposit and R27 000 in cash. The Trust has also committed to additional payments, which will see the witness receiving R100 000 in total.”
Members from the city met with the NPA on Tuesday, who confirmed that Bovu was not acquitted and the matter would be placed back on the court roll. The matter was only withdrawn due to the material witness stating they were no longer prepared to testify against Councillor Bovu.
The city claims the NPA plans to investigate allegations of the material witness being bribed not to testify.
“In addition to the charges of corruption and theft, the city believes additional charges need to be brought against Councillor Bovu … These include defeating the ends of justice, bribery and corruption,” Mashaba’s office added in its statement.