Defence to wrap up cross examination of first witness in Bongo corruption trial

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Defence lawyers for the accused in the R74-million fraud and corruption trial of former State Security Minister, Bongani Bongo, are expected to wrap up the cross examination of the first state witness.

Human Settlements Director Supply Chain Management, Thabo Mashile, has been in the witness dock for the past three days in the trial underway at the Nelspruit Specialised Commercial Crimes Court in Mbombela, Mpumalanga.

The accused are facing fraud, corruption and money laundering charges.

It is alleged that they inflated prices when the Provincial Human Settlements Department bought the two farms, Naauwoort in Emalahleni, and Reitspruit in Ermelo.

No irregularities

Mashile yesterday told the court during cross examination that the department followed proper procedures when purchasing the two farms as no irregularities were found.

Mashile further told the court that their books were also audited by the Auditor General (AG) and there were no adverse findings against the department.

He says the department saved money when purchasing the piece of land in Emalahleni.

“We had negotiated to R37.5 milion to include everything. So, they agreed and were given a price and we negotiated. The representative of the seller agreed to go down in terms of the price and we went back to report on what happened. So, far as I’m concerned, I did follow the processes to the letter as expected of me. The AG audited all purchases of portions including the two land and in terms of response from the AG, (we) have no adverse findings.”

Singwane and Partners

The defence lawyer, representing accused number six, Singwane and Partners, told Mashile that the money which was used to purchase the two properties was paid directly into Singwane and Partner’s trust account.

Singwane and Partners were appointed as a conveyancer on behalf of the department.

Mashile told the court that since he is not the one who makes payments, he cannot dispute whether the money was paid into Singwane’s Trust Account.

Mashile said the recommendations for the appointment of Singwane and Partners were supported by the department’s Bid Adjudication Committee therefore, it means Singwane and Partners was properly appointed.

Mashile also said it’s strange that the former head of the department who is accused number seven, David Dube, is answering in a court of law for the acquisition of these farms as SCOPA and the Auditor General had no problem with the purchasing of the land and the money spent.

He also stated that he can’t remember Dube deviating from the recommendations of the committees.