South Africa 16.9.2013 02:11 pm

Hawks must probe Mbete

Baleka Mbete. Picture: Refilwe Modise

Baleka Mbete. Picture: Refilwe Modise

The Hawks should probe claims that ANC chairwoman Baleka Mbete accepted a bribe from mining company Gold Fields, the Democratic Alliance said.

“The [mining] deal and Mbete’s alleged acceptance of a bribe might be investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the justice department in the United States of America, according to media reports,” DA MP James Lorimer said in a statement.

“South Africa’s investigative authorities, particularly the Hawks, have a duty to investigate corruption and serious economic offences and cannot leave this to international organisations.”

Hawks’ spokesman Captain Paul Ramaloko said the Hawks had not received a request in this regard from the DA by Monday, but would welcome it.

“We will look at the allegation and do some homework surrounding the allegation. If we are convinced that there are elements that point to wrongdoing we will investigate it.”

The Mail&Guardian reported earlier this month that Gold Fields buried a New York law firm’s finding that a R25 million share allocation to Mbete constituted bribery.

The law firm, which was commissioned by Gold Fields, found the mining company had increased Mbete’s cut in a contentious 2010 empowerment deal in response to an alleged threat by her representative.

According to the newspaper, the deal was hatched in 2010, in response to a mineral resources department requirement that the company secure an empowerment partner for its South Deep mine. The company was then applying for a new-order licence for the mine.

It reported that Mbete’s representative Brian Mosehla had “threatened to scuttle” the deal unless Mbete was given a bigger stake.

The ANC said on Tuesday that the newspaper should retract the story and apologise to Mbete and the party.

The party said it and Mbete reserved the right to “seek legal counsel and recourse to address this libellous and defamatory act”.

Lorimer said on Monday that the allegations surrounded the issue of mining, which was vital in creating jobs and driving development in South Africa.

“If our mining industry is to attract the investment it requires in order to flourish, it needs to be credible,” Lorimer said.

“Corrupt activities, or even the perception of corruption, will drive away investment and threaten jobs. The industry must be clean and must be seen to be corruption free.”

-Sapa

 

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