The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has committed to update the city of Johannesburg by Friday on whether it would prosecute a number of serious cases of alleged criminality uncovered by the city’s anti-corruption unit, the city said on Monday.
The commitment comes after an order by the Gauteng director of public prosecutions, advocate Andrew Chauke, that the outstanding investigations into these matters be finalised by April 30 2019.
Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba said: “This morning I wrote to advocate Chuake and head of the NPA advocate Shamila Batohi stating that the city eagerly awaits their decision. Given the historic lack of attention paid to these matters by the NPA, I also expressed my disappointment at what appears to be yet another delay in the prosecution of these serious cases of corruption.”
Mashaba said that the city was doing everything possible to end the theft of public money and property in Johannesburg and was determined to see justice.
The mayor then went on to cite a number of cases in which he said criminality was alleged but allegations were subsequently withdrawn or not pursued.
“The NPA previously opted to withdraw numerous cases from prosecution. This was despite overwhelming evidence against the accused. One such case is that of former candidate valuer, Mbali McClare, who was arrested for deliberately undervaluing 22 properties in the city, amounting to just under R500 million, that was withdrawn by the NPA late last year,” Mashaba said.
“At the time we were informed that the NPA had no option but to withdraw the case due to its inability to obtain statements from owners of the buildings which had been devalued.
“However, the NPA’s Johannesburg Special Commercial Crimes Unit is situated in a building owned by one such individual and the City’s Group Forensic and Investigation Services Unit (GFIS) was immediately able to identify other building owners.”
He said another case which illustrates the NPA’s inability to prosecute serious criminality was the withdrawal of the case against the directors of Setheo Engineering.
These directors, according to Mashaba, were arrested in 2017 after having allegedly colluded with city power officials to receive payments exceeding R88 million for work that was never completed in the building of the Eldorado Park sub-station and the refurbishment of the Hopefield sub-station.
“In addition to a fraudulent bank guarantee, I personally handed over the financial records of the estimated 28 fraudulent payments to the then acting head of the Hawks in 2017. Despite the overwhelming evidence, these directors still walk free,” Mashaba said
“In another travesty of justice, early last year, we witnessed the withdrawal of the case against the former MMC of Housing in Johannesburg, Councillor Dan Bovu. This case relates to the alleged illegal sale of state land to vulnerable people within our society through a trust established by Bovu.
“This case was also provisionally withdrawn from the roll because material witnesses were no longer prepared to testify after allegedly being paid money by the very same trust.”
Mashaba said such cases not only represented a “miscarriage of justice for the city” but also for law-abiding and hardworking residents as every cent lost to corruption slowed down service delivery.
“Despite our discontent at the way these criminal matters have been handled, the city will continue to engage the NPA in good faith and trusts that these matters are receiving the urgent attention they require so that final decisions are made by 10 May 2019,” said the mayor.
“The city is confident that the evidence against the accused in these matters is overwhelming. Therefore, should the NPA decline to prosecute these cases, General Shadrack Sibiya has been instructed to begin the process of applying for a nolle prosequi certificates so that the city is able to pursue private prosecution.”
– African News Agency