Former state security minister Bongo back in court

Former state security minister Bongani Bongo has been arrested again by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (known as the Hawks), together with others, over a range of charges including fraud, corruption and theft. 

Bongo and his co-accused are due to appear at the Nelspruit regional magistrate’s court in Mpumalanga tomorrow. 

This is the second time that Bongo has been arrested. In November last year, he was arrested by the Hawks over corruption charges but he made bail of R5 000, on condition that he not interfere with any state witnesses and must inform the investigating officer two weeks before any planned travel outside the country.

The arrest came after he was accused in 2017 of trying to bribe the former parliamentary head of legal services, advocate Ntuthuzelo Vanara. The advocate claimed that Bongo bribed him with a blank cheque to ensure that he was not implicated in an investigation into the mismanagement of the national power utility, Eskom.  

Vanara was overseeing the committee responsible for investigating the capture of Eskom by the Gupta family. The incident happened while Bongo was still the state security minister. 

In 2018 the Mail & Guardian reported that Bongo wanted to take the speaker of Parliament to court over the allegations.

“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 he didn’t open a case because this is a criminal case,” said Bongo at the time.

Bongo denied that he bribed Vanara, claiming that it is all a plot to tarnish his name. In an interview with eNCA in November 2019, he said, “I’ve never bribed or attempted to bribe the advocate,” adding that, “Advocate Vanara didn’t have the capacity to stop the inquiry that was sanctioned by Parliament.”

In the same interview, Bongo claimed that he was poisoned after having an interaction with Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. “I was given poison. I was going to finalise my treatment in Cuba.” He further added that he had to cut his trip short so that he could attend to his case.

In 2018, Bongo was removed from his position when the incoming President Cyril Ramaphosa chose his new cabinet members. Bongo is now an ANC MP.

In August, he appeared at the Cape Town magistrate’s court, but his case was postponed to next month

In 2017 it was reported that Bongo allegedly used a portion of a R37-million payment intended to fund a government land deal in Mpumalanga to build himself a house. The deal was funded by Mpumalanga’s human settlements department in 2011 when Bongo was the department’s head of legal services. 

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Tshegofatso Mathe
Tshegofatso Mathe
Tshegofatso Mathe is a financial trainee journalist at the Mail & Guardian.

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