‘I was not arrested,’ claims Bongo following his arrest

Picture: Screenshot (eNCA).

The former state security minister says that while he was forced to leave Cuba, where he was receiving treatment for poisoning, this was just to ‘attend to the police’.

Despite having been released on R5,000 bail following his arrest by the Hawks on bribery and corruption charges on Thursday, former state security minister Bongani Bongo has claimed in a bizarre television interview that he wasn’t arrested at all, but had to return from Cuba – where he says he was being treated after being poisoned – to “appear on” a case and “attend to the police”.

“I was not arrested,” he claimed on eNCA.

“The police called me when I was in Cuba to say that I must come back because there was a case that I must appear on.

“I was in Cuba for a treatment of the poison I got recently.

“You know recently I was given a poison so I was going to finalise my treatment in Cuba, so I had to cut my trip very short from Cuba to come and attend to what the police had called me for,” he says.

Bongo’s claim that he was not arrested is a particularly strange one to make considering the fact that he appeared at the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, where he was released on bail of R5,000. People who don’t get arrested don’t ever have to apply for bail.

Statements from Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) also begged to differ with Bongo’s version of events – both bodies have been clear that Bongo was arrested on bribery charges after allegedly trying to derail a parliamentary inquiry into alleged state capture at Eskom by trying to convince an advocate to call in sick.

During the same eNCA interview, Bongo also denied that he ever attempted to bribe an advocate.

He denied ever having met former acting Eskom chair Zethembe Khoza and said Advocate Ntuthuzelo Vanara did not have the capacity to stop an inquiry sanctioned by a parliamentary committee. He said he doesn’t “think” he had the blank cheque he is accused of offering Vanara and added that he didn’t have the money to bribe anyone or had any interest in influencing parliament regarding Eskom.

Bongo’s case will next be heard on January 31, 2020.

Making bizarre claims on eNCA is becoming something of a tradition for current and former state security ministers, with David Mahlobo having once told the news channel, after being implicated in rhino poaching in an Al Jazeera documentary, that he had just visited the Mbombela Spa owned by self-confessed criminal Guan Jiang Guang, a Chinese underworld figure linked to rhino horn trafficking, to make use of the spa’s treatments and “get my nails done”.

(Compiled by Daniel Friedman)

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