Whistleblower fingers North West leaders in ‘farm scam’
A company that secured contracts worth hundreds of millions of rands from the North West government was allegedly a conduit to funnel funds, farms and livestock to senior provincial politicians, including Premier Supra Mahumapelo.
This is part of a submission offered to the Hawks by a senior official central to the company, AgriDelight, who is now trying to negotiate immunity from prosecution under section 204 of the Criminal Procedure Act.
The senior official has sought legal advice on how to turn state witness as the Hawks’ fraud and corruption investigation in the troubled province intensifies.
AgriDelight was allegedly used by North West politicians to loot state coffers.
In 2014, the company was awarded a three-year contract worth R650-million to be the implementing agency for rural, environment and agricultural development programmes. On its website the company claims that it helps improve farming efficiency by implementing feasibility studies, computerised planning and strategies. The site was closed down on Thursday afternoon,
Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi confirmed on Thursday that it was considering the senior official’s section 204 request.
“We can confirm that the DPCI [directorate for priority crime investigation] is seriously assessing the matter. However, we are not in a position to comment ... at this stage. For the sake of the safety of the individual … we sincerely request that these names are not made public since there is a real risk [for] the individual concerned [and] the disclosure of the identity of the individual … may jeopardise any criminal investigation,” said Mulaudzi.
AgriDelight came under scrutiny after questionable transactions were reported to the Hawks.
Simultaneously Mahumapelo came under fire following revelations about his relationship with the Gupta family. His son had also received a R1.1-million bursary from state arms manufacturer Denel.
The Sunday Times reported more than a week ago that Mahumapelo had, in October 2016, instructed AgriDelight to deliver a herd of cattle worth R1.5-million to the Nkandla homestead of his political ally, former president Jacob Zuma.
According to highly placed sources, the senior official negotiating with the Hawks has been feeling the pressure to disclose the full extent of the dealings between politicians and AgriDelight.
In one of the documents seen by the Mail & Guardian allegations are made that rural, environment and agriculture department MEC Manketsi Tlhape also benefited from directing funds to her farm through AgriDelight.
There are also allegations that cattle and sheep worth millions of rands were sent to Mahumapelo’s farm.
Mahumapelo’s spokesperson, Brian Setswambung: “After engagement with the leadership the Premier’s Office will now do total focus on the Roma Nna Setsokotsane 10x10 campaigns and will no longer respond to such matters.”
This comes as the ANC’s national working committee recommended to the national executive committee that Mahumapelo should be removed as premier on Monday.
The M&G has established that the senior official linked to AgriDelight sought legal advice from a Sandton advocate on how to “provide a meaningful” statement under section 204 of the Criminal Procedure Act.
In a legal document seen by the M&G, the official, whose name has been withheld because of fears for his safety, was told that if “he wants indemnity he must come clean and reveal every detail”.
Under section 204, a person must disclose all the information at his disposal to qualify for indemnity.
According to the legal document, the official should note the following:
- That a number of transaction, which are still to be verified, happened within a short space of time;
- That a number of people were involved in these relationships. (The official is still collecting supporting documents, including bank statements, to support allegations);
- That it would be unwise to submit an incomplete and incoherent statement to the authorities as some of the evidence is yet to be obtained from various sources; and
- That he needs to consider his position in relation to the criminal offences he may be charged with.
“Evidence is mounting and there is a clear indication that politicians were using that implementing agency to steal from the state,” said a highly placed source who wished to remain anonymous. “The man wants to come clean because he is facing jail time whilst politicians can maybe find a political solution.”
In 2016, City Press revealed that AgriDelight failed to refurbish the Taung Skull Heritage site in the North West. The company’s chief executive confirmed that AgriDelight was paid R61-million by the provincial government.
Mashabane Rose Associates, the architectural firm that designed the refurbishment, accused AgriDelight of having no capacity to implement the project.