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17 Oct 2008 06:00
A case of corruption has been opened against Robert Gumede, the chairperson of listed information technology company GijimaAST.
The case, opened with the Roodepoort police station under case number 781/2/2007, concerns alleged bribes paid by Gumede to Telkom executives.
Gumede, who recently donated R10-million to the ANC during a fundraising dinner in Sandton, vehemently denies bribing Telkom officials and said he was not aware of the police’s probe against him.
The charge comes after a series of battles between Gumede and his former business partner, John Sterenborg.
Gumede claims to have won all combat rounds thus far. Sterenborg, who lives in England, could not be reached for comment.
The Mail & Guardian has established that the South African Police Service’s commercial branch in Johannesburg is actively pursuing the corruption charge against Gumede, relating to the award of a R600-million tender by Telkom to his Gijima Afrika Smart Technologies (GAST) in 2002.
GAST is not related to the listed GijimaAST, which Gumede joined in 2005 as its black empowerment partner.
Gumede’s Guma group, formerly known as Gijima, acquired 37% of AST’s shares in 2005 to form GijimaAST.
The investigation of Gumede follows several bouts of litigation between him and Sterenborg about the acquisition of Applied Card Technologies (ACT), a smart-card manufacturer previously owned by Sterenborg.
Gumede was Sterenborg’s black business partner in ACT when the company was placed under provisional liquidation. During that period ACT was asked by Telkom to tender for a R600-million contract to manufacture telephone cards until 2005.
Gumede bought ACT and the Telkom tender was subsequently awarded to GAST.
During a 2006 inquiry by the master of the high court into ACT’s liquidation Sterenborg accused Gumede of irregularly diverting the phone card tender to his own company [GAST] while ACT was in dire need of revenue.
However, Gumede told the M&G this week he believed Sterenborg “abandoned” the inquiry because he knew it would make adverse findings against him and not Gumede.
Now the SAPS is investigating allegations that Telkom executives received benefits from Gumede while adjudicating his bid for the phone card contract.
Gumede told the M&G: “Your approach to this issue is clear: ‘Aha, we have dirt on a man who is funding the ANC. Let’s expose him.’ But you know as well as I do that this ‘dirt’ does not exist—because it is not ‘dirt’ on me, it is mud that was thrown at me by someone (the British citizen Dr John Sterenborg) who has himself been exposed as a liar, fraudster, an extortionist and a rogue,” Gumede said in response to the M&G‘s questions.
“I am not aware of any so-called investigation and will expect the SAPS to talk to me directly if there is such an investigation ... I am a law-abiding citizen.”
Read more from Adriaan Basson
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