DA MP Mat Cuthbert called on Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition Ebrahim Patel to coordinate with the Police Minister Bheki Cele to ensure that all key witnesses “have their safety prioritised and their lives protected from criminal elements”.
This after he was informed on Wednesday that two key witnesses linked to an ongoing investigation into the NLC’s Denzhe Primary Care debacle were victims of arson in the past week.
“Both Ado Krige and Takalani Tshikalange had their cars set alight, with the same modus operandi employed, last week Saturday and this week on Wednesday, respectively,” he said in a statement.
‘Not a mere coincidence’
“This seems to be more than a mere coincidence as they are both key witnesses in a case of NLC grant funding gone wrong, where R27.5 million, which was meant for a drug rehabilitation centre, was stolen and the associated NGO hijacked.”
He said both of them have provided sworn affidavits to the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) investigating team currently looking into the Denzhe Primary Care debacle as well as three other projects per Patel’s instruction.
“While the DA does not want to preempt any outcome of the SAPS and any other relevant law enforcement agency’s work, we call on them to ensure that the investigation into these matters is expedited.”
Last month, Tshikalange and Krige confirmed to GoundUp – who first exposed allegations of corruption – that they were interviewed by investigators.
As the pile of allegations grew, the NLC refused to release its lists of recipients with its latest annual report.
Since March, Cuthbert tried in the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry to obtain the lists, but the ANC contingent blocked this.
Then last week, the ANC reversed its previous stance and said the lists must be provided expeditiously, on the advice of a legal opinion.
A notice that they would publish the beneficiary list also appeared on the NLC’s website.
On Monday an NGO called United Civil Society in Action (UCSA) – which first sprang up early this year and appears to exist solely in defence of the NLC – withdrew its court action against GoundUp.
The organisation asked the court to declare that GroundUp was in breach of a regulation of the Lotteries Act that, which they claim, protects the confidentiality of NLC grant recipients.
It happened to be the same regulation the NLC claimed prevented them from publishing the lists, albeit that they had published the lists previously.