Corruption accused ANC MP Bongani Bongo wants the case against him thrown out based on evidence presented in his trial.
On Monday, the state closed its case against Bongo, who has pleaded not guilty to a corruption charge emanating from an accusation that he tried to disrupt a parliamentary inquiry into state capture at Eskom on 10 October 2017, by allegedly bribing an official.
In a surprise move, Advocate Mike Hellens SC, Bongo’s counsel, requested a Section 174 application to discharge the case based on evidence presented so far.
State prosecutors told the court the state was unaware of Hellens’ intention.
Section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 encompasses the right of an accused to be discharged from the offence he/she has allegedly committed where, at the close of the state’s case, there is no evidence on which the court may connect the accused to the charge.
State prosecutors also submitted a statement of admissions signed by Bongo.
Although details of the statements were not shared in court, indications are that Bongo does not deny phone calls to Vanara.
The case against Bongo comes after former president Jacob Zuma announced an inquiry in 2017 into the power utility following several allegations of corruption.
According to an initial affidavit by Ntuthuzelo Vanara, evidence leader in the inquiry into Eskom, Bongo asked him to fake an illness and take sick leave because the inquiry could not proceed in his absence.
Bongo also allegedly offered Vanara, who was also the former acting registrar of members’ interests in Parliament, a cash bribe.
Following the early morning rumblings, the state called Lieutenant-Colonel Vincent Makweya, the Hawks officer who investigated the matter.
“Advocate Vanara told us (Hawks) that Bongo was sent by [the] Eskom board. They needed assistance. The people of Eskom were worried that there was incriminating evidence at Eskom.
“Vanara asked [for] the assistance. He [Bongo] allegedly said, Vanara should fake illness and that [the] inquiry would stall.
“Advocate Vanara alleged that Mr Bongo told him to name his price. Mr Bongo would then bring the money to him. He said he had refused to work with Bongo,” said Makweya.
Judge President John Hlophe asked Makweya whether he told Vanara it was an offence not to report a suspected crime.
“Advocate Vanara already made a statement which he had handed over to the parliamentary executive. He would ask if he could hand a copy to the police which he did. I attached [it] in the docket,” he told the court.
Makweya said he does not dispute Bongo’s testimony that he wanted to meet Vanara to discuss two parallel inquiries into Eskom.
Heads of argument will be heard on Wednesday.