?La Xhosa Nostra? mulls arms probe

PUBLIC Protector Selby Baqwa, Director of Public Prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka, Judge Fikile Bam of the Constitutional Court and various senior members of the ANC were privy to a secret meeting at which ANC chief whip Tony Yengeni admitted that he had money in his bank which he could not account for, according to a report in investigative magazine Noseweek.

Noseweek editor Martin Welz alleges the meeting was called by Yengeni to discuss the probe into the government?s R43bn arms deal. Both Baqwa and Ngcuka head units which are investigating the deal, while Yengeni has taken charge of the standing committee on public accounts.

Baqwa has dismissed the claims as ?balderdash?, saying he was overseas at the time of the alleged meeting. “Someone must have an overactive imagination. The allegations are completely false,” he said.

Ngcuka’s spokesman Sipho Ngwema said his principal was out of the country and he was not in a position to immediately comment.

In a report in Afrikaans daily Beeld, Noseweek claimed that at a meeting at Yengeni’s house in Cape Town at the end of last year Yengeni announced: “I and other people have got money in out bank accounts which we cannot explain. And we do not intend to explain it either. We deserve it.”

Yengeni is currently under fire over allegations concerning his and his wife’s ownership of luxury Mercedes vehicles.

In his editorial column in Noseweek, quoted in Beeld, Welz says: “Several important people were summoned between Christmas and New Year last year to a meeting in Yengeni’s house in Cape Town. Those who qualified for an official travel allowance were warned not to make use of it when booking their air tickets because they could then more easily be traced later on.

“The item topping their agenda was, what to do about the probe into irregularities in connection with the government’s arms purchases.

Welz added: “But what was judge Fikile Bam doing at the meeting? Was he perhaps there to be prepared for the leadership of the much-discussed judicial commission of inquiry? And were our witnesses of the meeting from a section of La Xhosa Nostra?”

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