‘Down and out’ Bongo to sue Parliament for defamation
Former State Security Agency minister Bongani Bongo wants to take the speaker of Parliament to court over allegations that he attempted to bribe the evidence leader in the parliamentary inquiry into state capture of state-owned entities last year.
The former minister was implicated by evidence leader advocate Ntuthuzelo Vanara in an affidavit submitted to speaker Baleka Mbete, in which he claimed that Bongo had attempted to bribe him with a “blank cheque” in order to derail the inquiry by the ethics subcommittee.
But, almost a year after the inquiry, no findings have been made and now the ethics committee wants to begin all over again, said Bongo.
Bongo, who faces another investigation of fraud and corruption by the Hawks, is now an ANC backbencher. He believes the bribe allegations were a “plot” to tarnish his name and that Parliament and the Hawks are deliberately dragging their feet in concluding their respective investigations.
“This matter has been hanging over my head for almost a year now.
And yesterday [Wednesday] the ethics committee said they will have to start over again because there is a new chairperson.
I then went to see my lawyers about this because they [the ethics committee] interviewed both of us [Vanara and Bongo] long ago and they didn’t make any findings.
“I see now they [Parliament] have thanked him [Vanara] with a big job at the SABC. He is up and I am now down and out,” said Bongo.
He had been willing to co-operate with the Hawks but the investigators of the elite crime- fighting unit had been postponing meeting with him, he said.
“I am actually going to sue for defamation and the papers will be served on the speaker ... I was informed about these allegations six months later by Parliament, even though I had already read them in newspapers. I asked him [Vanara] as an officer of the court why didn’t he open a case because this is a criminal case. Instead a case was opened by the DA [Democratic Alliance]. I asked him why did he write an affidavit 20 days later after I spoke to him. I told him he was plotting chief,” said Bongo.
According to Eric Ntabazalila, the Western Cape spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the case is still being investigated.
“The case had been referred to the NPA’s specialised commercial crimes unit in Bellville. A prosecutor was appointed and has been providing guidance to the investigating officer,” said Ntabazalila.
Bongo believes the allegations were to secure his removal as state security minister. Bongo was appointed during former president Jacob Zuma’s second Cabinet reshuffle in October last year. He was promoted from the ANC caucus to take over from his Mpumalanga comrade, David Mahlobo, who was moved to the department of energy.
But, soon after his appointment it emerged that Bongo was the subject of a fraud and corruption investigation by the Hawks. It is alleged that he received a R300 00 kickback in 2012 from Mpumalanga property developers during his tenure as the head of legal services in that province’s department of human settlements.
This was revealed in a report to the police ministry by former Hawks acting head Lieutenant General Yolisa Matakata.
It is alleged that Bongo approved the purchase of three municipal-owned farms by the property developers and that the reward was paid as a deposit towards his purchase of a BMW X5.
According to the NPA’s spokesperson, Luvuyo Mfaku, no decision has been taken on prosecuting Bongo in this case “because the investigation is not yet completed”.
Bongo, who was axed in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Cabinet reshuffle in February, resurfaced recently as part of the ANC’s team deployed in Limpopo to investigate ways to save the embattled VBS Mutual Bank, which was allegedly looted by its executives and other politically connected individuals.
The Hawks had not responded to requests for comment at the time of print.