R52m tender trips up Malema

Sep 23 2012 15:07
Adriaan Basson, Jacques Pauw and Athandiwe Saba - City Press

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Johannesburg - Julius Malema made his millions from a fraudulent and possibly corrupt tender, says Public Protector Thuli Madonsela in a City Press exclusive.

City Press has obtained a copy of Madonsela’s provisional report into the R52m tender won by On-Point Engineers from the Limpopo roads and transport department.

Malema’s Ratanang Family Trust is one of two shareholders in On-Point.

Although Madonsela couldn’t find any evidence that Malema interfered in the tendering process, she found that his trust benefited “improperly” from the contract and that legal action should be taken to recover the money he received.

Her investigation also found that On-Point acted corruptly by signing back-to-back agreements with subcontractors.

“Due to the fact that the awarding of the contract to On-Point was based on deliberate misrepresentations and non-compliance with procurement prescripts, its shareholders, including the Ratanang Family Trust ... benefited improperly by means of the payment of ‘dividends’ and other payments made to it by On-Point,” the report reads.

Madonsela recommends that the tender be immediately cancelled; that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the Asset Forfeiture Unit urgently consider criminal action; and that the Master of the High Court investigate the flow of money into Malema’s trust.

Malema will appear in the Polokwane Regional Court on Wednesday to face criminal charges of fraud and money laundering relating to the On-Point tender.

City Press has learnt that his business partner and On-Point’s chief executive, Lesiba Gwangwa, will also appear in court, along with other Limpopo businessmen and government officials involved in the awarding of the tender.

Apart from Madonsela’s report and the criminal charges, Malema has a third battle to fight: a tax judgment of R16m obtained against him by the SA Revenue Service (Sars) last week.

Sars is targeting Malema’s property and assets in Limpopo and Gauteng, including his half-built mansion in Sandton, a farm and smallholding in Limpopo, and a Polokwane house.

Sars spokesperson Adrian Lackay confirmed the judgment.

As state institutions were putting the boot in, Malema was crying foul, claiming that the sudden actions against him were politically motivated.

On Monday – four days before his arrest warrant was issued – Malema’s lawyer, Nicqui Galaktiou, warned the NPA and the Hawks in a letter not to be influenced politically when considering Malema’s matter.

“It has come to Mr Malema’s knowledge that there is a political plan to have him arrested and incarcerated within days ...

"Mr Malema is deeply concerned as to this information and, if true, provides stark evidence that there is a political agenda to have Mr Malema arrested and brought before a court on charges which are unsustainable,” she wrote.

These charges, according to Galaktiou, will be motivated by an “ulterior motive to silence him as a political opponent to other politicians and to interfere with or limit his constitutional rights, including his right of freedom of speech”.

City Press understands that Malema’s belief in a political conspiracy was fuelled by a high-level meeting of ministers that took place in Cape Town last week.

He apparently thinks that the purpose of the meeting was to devise a strategy to have him arrested and that this constituted political interference of the highest order.

It is expected that Malema’s legal team will make this argument when he appears in court this week.

City Press was given different versions of the same meeting, indicating the country’s security establishment was split on the Malema matter and whether there was political pressure on the NPA to charge him.

Yesterday Justice Minister Jeff Radebe, who chairs the justice, crime prevention and security cluster, said no individual cases were discussed.

“The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the situation that was prevailing in the mines in Marikana and what measures needed to be put in place to stabilise the situation.

“These are the same measures announced at the media briefing (on Friday). Allegations that individual cases or individuals were discussed are unfounded.

“The cluster would like to dismiss these mischievous allegations.

“The cluster would like to reaffirm the independence of the NPA, the SAPS and Sars as protected by the Constitution ... and other laws of our country. These institutions are established to conduct their work independently from the executive,” Radebe said.

Yesterday Malema declined to comment, saying he will respond in court.

Cosatu’s Zwelinzima Vavi wrote on Twitter: “Malema is innocent until proven guilty – that is the principle we must respect.”

Madonsela’s sanctions

  • On-Point’s R52m project management unit tender with Limpopo roads and transport department be cancelled.
  • Legal proceedings be instituted against On-Point and shareholders (including Malema’s trust) to recover improper financial benefits.
  • On-Point and Lesiba Gwangwa be blacklisted by the Treasury.
  • Double payments to On-Point be recovered.
  • Disciplinary steps be instituted against members of the bid adjudication committees that awarded the tender to On-Point.
  • The Engineering Council of SA investigate Gwangwa’s conduct.
  • The Master of the High Court investigate the administration of the Malema and Gwangwa family trusts.
  • The NPA and Asset Forfeiture Unit urgently consider taking criminal action.
– City Press

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