Witness corroborates allegation secret services paid for Mthethwa’s fence

Witness corroborates allegation secret services paid for Mthethwa’s fence

Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa is pictured during the commemoration proceedings in Ekurhuleni, 10 April 2019, for former SACP leader Chris Hani. The occassion marks the 26th anniversary of Chris Hani's assassination. Picture: Refilwe Modise

The witness also alleges Bheki Cele allowed former Major General Solomon Lazarus to use funds from the secret services account to pay his legal fees.

Crime intelligence whistleblower, Colonel Dhanajaya Naidoo on Wednesday corroborated previous testimony at the commission of inquiry into state capture that funds from the secret services account were allegedly used to construct a fence at former police minister Nathi Mthethwa’s residence.

In April this year, former KZN Hawks boss Major-General (Ret) Johan Booysen told the commission that an approximate R195,000 was paid from the secret services account to build a fence at the private residence of Mthethwa.

Booysen said the fence was built at Mthethwa’s private residence in KwaZulu-Natal, without procedures being followed, using funds from the incorrect account. Additionally, Booysen explained the amount paid was R95,000 in excess of the R100,000 permitted by the ministerial handbook for upgrades to ministers’ residences.

On Wednesday, Naidoo told the chairperson of the commission, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo that he had been instructed by the head of the secret services account, former Major General Solomon Lazarus, to do upgrades by putting up a boundary wall at Mthethwa’s residence.

Naidoo said Lazarus had received instruction to do these upgrades from former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli, however, the witness said he could not confirm whether the former minister had instructed Mdluli.

Naidoo said Mthethwa’s residence was in KwaMbonambi in KwaZulu-Natal and that he had gone there with Mdluli, who was meeting Mthethwa.

“So I know where the premises is,” Naidoo said.

Naidoo said he had travelled with crime intelligence member FM09, who could not be named and met with another agent, FM46, who oversaw the project at Mthethwa’s residence.

“When the project did start, I remember having a conversation with General Mdluli [who said Mthethwa had asked] why we (crime intelligence) were taking so long with the project,” Naidoo said.

This conversation led to him travelling to KwaZulu-Natal with FM09 and Lazarus and meeting up with FM46 and that at that meeting, Lazarus had pressured the latter agent to expedite the project.

Naidoo said he recalled putting in three claims over a period of months to fund the project, which he said cost just under R200,000.

Naidoo said Mthethwa’s concerns at the time over the delays were valid because there was hardly any work done when he and the others arrived at the premises.

Naidoo said the funds from the secret services account had been for labour and building material.

On Tuesday, Naidoo told Zondo that a Mercedes-Benz ML350 was allegedly purchased for Mthethwa at Umhlanga, Durban, at a cost of R373,850 using funds from the secret service account.

Naidoo said the vehicle was a few months after its purchase fetched from Mthethwa’s residence in Pretoria after the former police minister indicated that he no longer wanted to use it because journalists were allegedly following him.

Following these allegations, it was reported by News24 that Mthethwa had instructed his lawyers to sue for defamation following allegations levelled against him at the commission of inquiry into state capture.

It was reported that Mthethwa said in a statement that when the allegations were levelled against him at the commission earlier this year, he had responded in writing and had submitted the auditor-general’s findings following previous investigations on the matter.

Mthethwa’s lawyer, Eric Mabuza, was quoted as saying in the statement that when the matter was first reported on in the media in 20152, the office of the auditor-general was requested to probe the allegations, which took place during May and June 2012.

“The investigation was conducted in terms of the International Standards of Auditing, as as the auditor-general’s policy, standards and guidelines,” Mabuza was quoted as saying.

Mabuza reportedly added that the auditor-general had found no evidence that Mthethwa was aware that the fence was being constructed using money from the secret service account or that any policy or procedures had been contravened.

Mabuza reportedly further said there had been no evidence that Mthethwa had signed off on the quality of the construction of the fence.

The auditor-general found that no documents and information had been provided that links the vehicle reported on in the media to Mthethwa, Mabuza reportedly said.

Mthethwa’s statement was quoted as stating that the former police minister accepted that leaders, whether in the public or private sector, were subject to scrutiny, but that it was regrettable and deplorable that some had no regard of the truth and facts and continue to peddle falsehoods with the aim of besmirching and tarnishing the reputation of others.

“I continue to trust in the efficacy of our institutions, certain in the assurance that justice always triumphs. I have instructed my lawyers to sue for defamation.”

Mthethwa served in the ministry – previously known as safety and security – from 2008 to 2014.

On Wednesday, Naidoo also alleged that former police commissioner and current Minister of Police Bheki Cele had allowed Lazarus to use money from the secret services account to pay for his legal fees at a time when the latter was being investigated by the Hawks.

On Monday, Naidoo told the commission of rumours that Cele was allegedly involved in the awarding of tenders to Durban businessman Timmy Marimuthu.

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