Charges of corruption against high profile KwaZulu-Natal ANC politicians implicated in the awarding of multimillion rand tenders to Intaka may be dropped, the Mercury reported on Thursday.
Independent sources told the paper the head of National Prosecuting Authority’s commercial crime unit, Richard Mrwebi, was reviewing the decision to prosecute KwaZulu-Natal legislature speaker Peggy Nkonyeni and economic development provincial minister Mike Mabuyakhulu.
Mrwebi, who formerly led the Scorpions in the province, was appointed to his position by President Jacob Zuma in November. One of his first acts was to order the withdrawal of fraud charges into crime intelligence chief and reputed Zuma ally Richard Mdluli — charges which had already investigated by the Hawks. He has since emerged as one of Zuma’s “praetorian guards“.
Nkonyeni is known to be close to Zuma, and was his preferred choice for provincial premier, a position held since 2009 by Zweli Mkhize.
Nkonyeni, Mabuyakhulu, former Ithala development finance corporation chief executive Sipho Shabalala, and Uruguayan businessman Gaston Savoi have been charged with racketeering and corruption.
The charges against them relate to the awarding of multimillion-rand tenders to Savoi’s company, Intaka, to supply water purification plants and oxygen generating units to provincial hospitals.
The Mercury reported that Mrwebi recently called a meeting to discuss the trial and was expected to make a decision on prosecuting Mabuyakhulu and Nkonyeni.
“Advocate Mrwebi has not made any decision about this matter because it falls under the director of public prosecutions in KwaZulu-Natal. We are not at liberty to discuss matters pending before court as the matter has been set down for trial,” NPA spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
In January Judge Ron McLaren set the trial dates for October 1 to December 14. — Sapa and staff reporter