Friday, March 30, 2012

Fighting White Collar Crime in South Africa

Fighting White Collar Crime in South Africa

South Africa |
Democracy |

By her second year in law school Glynnis Breytenbach knew she wanted to be a prosecutor. A sturdy daughter of rural Free State, South Africa, she entered the prosecutorial service in Johannesburg in 1987 prosecuting check scams. By 1990 she was prosecuting commercial crimes.

A witness gives testimony at the Pretoria Commercial Crimes Court December 9, 2004.

Photo Credit: Sesana Mokoana/USAID

Crime rates surged after apartheid's authoritarian controls were lifted and South Africa became a major destination for crime syndicates that prey on businesses.
By 2000 commercial crime was siphoning $6 billion a year from the economy. The South African government began fighting back with laws and crime-fighting institutions adapted from international best practices.
President Thabo Mbeki established a Specialized Commercial Crime Court and Prosecuting Unit in Pretoria. The Department of Justice (DOJ) provided permanently assigned magistrates and prosecutors, while the commercial crimes branch of the police assigned permanent investigators. The "Unit," as Breytenbach calls it, had almost no budget when it opened its doors in 1999.

USAID and Business Against Crime (BAC), an association of major South African corporations, stepped in. USAID trained South African prosecutors in financial crime trial skills that Breytenbach describes as "particularly beneficial." BAC refurbished needed office space in downtown Pretoria, converted an underground parking lot into courtrooms and a holding cell, and set up a computerized caseload management system.

Today the Specialized Commercial Crime Court and Prosecuting Unit in Pretoria is a busy place. Police investigators and prosecutors work under common guidelines and in the same office space—"co-location" as it is called. When charges of a commercial crime are reported, the police determine whether it is of sufficient complexity for the Unit. When a docket is opened in the Unit, the senior superintendent of the commercial crimes branch of the police assigns an investigator. Breytenbach, the deputy director of the Unit, assigns a prosecutor. Within 14 days the prosecutor must contact the investigator, according to the guidelines. "Most of the investigators are men," says Breytenbach. "Most of the prosecutors are women." When possible, pairings are made to transfer skills.

The use of computerized "case plan documents" improves case flow management and ensures each docket will contain everything needed for trial. "By the time a docket is ready," says Breytenbach, "even though it's likely a yard thick, the prosecutor knows everything in there." Volume is high. At any point in time each investigator is handling 30 cases and each prosecutor double that amount. During a 12 month period from 2003 to 2004, the court adjudicated 283 cases, with only 15 acquittals, a 95 percent conviction rate. A major reason for the high conviction rate is the use of plea bargaining. Prosecutors from the Unit are always well prepared and the magistrates are highly knowledgeable, and so 40 percent of the accused plea bargain.

Breytenbach's team does not shy away from the rich or powerful. One trio of stock brokers was hit hard with 5,256 counts of fraud involving $4 million. Breytenbach's team has successfully prosecuted senior members of parliament and senior police officials. Building on this success, the DOJ has opened additional courts in Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, and Durban. All four courts maintain conviction rates of over 90 percent. Breytenbach smiles when her visitors ask her to account for the Unit's success. "Co-location, good case planning, and high retention," she says, her green eyes shining with pride. She should have added hard work, because her staff works 16 hours a day. "We are seeing a deterrence effect," she says. "Once we get a sufficient number of higher skilled prosecutors, in five to ten years, white collar crime will be under control."


NPA: Breytenbach's suspension not over Mdluli case

The National Prosecuting Authority's (NPA) corruption prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach was issued with a letter of suspension on Monday, a spokesperson said, adding it had nothing to do with crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli's fraud case.

"The charges relate to her conduct in handling one of the cases allocated to her," Mthunzi Mhaga said.

"We will exercise restraint in commenting on this matter in view of legal implications in labour issues."

He said all the charges would be dealt with in a disciplinary hearing.

Breytenbach heads the NPA's specialised commercial crimes unit in Pretoria.

According to reports, she was responsible for the NPA's arms deal probe and the fraud case against Mdluli.

Mhaga maintained there was no link between Breytenbach's suspension and Mdluli.

"We dismiss those insinuations as baseless."

Unanswered questions
The Democratic Alliance said on Monday that important questions relating to Breytenbach's suspension remained unanswered.

"The suspension has been widely interpreted as intimidation of a prosecutor who insists on doing her work without fear or favour and who resisted the dropping of fraud charges against crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli," DA Member of Parliament Dene Smuts said in a statement.

Breytenbach was issued with a notice of intention to suspend her in February.

Smuts said the DA had asked acting National Director of Public Prosecutions Advocate Nomgcobo Jiba during a portfolio committee on justice meeting on April 17 if the threat of suspension was not an attempt to intimidate Breytenbach and if she had been told to drop the fraud charges against Mdluli.

Jiba told the committee that there had never been any instructions or any political pressure. She also said that she did not know where the link between the Mdluli fraud case and Breytenbach's proposed suspension came from, said Smuts.

"Establishing a clear sequence of events and the outcome of any challenge which advocate Breytenbach may bring to her suspension will hopefully bring clarity in a matter that potentially has the gravest conceivable consequences for the administration of justice," she said. -- Sapa
Related Articles
■'Murder' magistrate unmoved by Mdluli's money plight
■Top cop 'targeted' after spooking spy boss
■NPA rubbishes Mdluli, Breytenbach links

MTN's cash, weapons and ties in Iran

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Cellphone giant MTN was so desperate to win a mobile operating licence in the "virgin" territory of Iran that it allegedly put together a package of bribes, trading opportunities in sophisticated weaponry, capital investment and diplomatic influence that the Islamic Republic could not resist.

That is the claim of rival firm Turkcell, which was pushed out of the deal when MTN arrived on the scene. It backs up the allegation with a raft of what appears to be internal MTN documents, leaked from the heart of the company's Iran operation.

The allegations are set out in a $4-billion (R32-billion) lawsuit launched in the US District Court of Columbia in Washington DC this week.

The scheme, allegedly known in MTN as "Project Snooker", was allegedly driven from the top by then-chief executive Phuthuma Nhleko, with the assistance of Irene Charnley (then commercial director), and Sifiso Dabengwa (then chief operating officer).

It included alleged bribes to South Africa's ambassador to Iran, Yusuf "Jo-Jo" Saloojee, and Iran's deputy foreign minister, Javid Ghorbanoghli; the involvement of former defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota in the procurement of highly sensitive weapons systems from parastatal Denel; and access for Iranian officials to South Africa's top nuclear envoy, Abdul Minty.

The memos attached to the court papers apparently set out how Ghorbanoghli, dubbed "Long John", was allegedly paid $400 000 to politically undermine Turkcell's position while Saloojee, codenamed "Short John'', was allegedly paid $200 000 to help MTN deliver pro-Iran votes from South Africa at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) amid controversy over Iran's nuclear plans.

The Irancell cellphone network was projected to be worth $31.6-billion in revenues over 15 years for a licence fee of $380-million. The licence holder and the Iranian state-owned telecommunications company were to enjoy exclusive use of the market for two years before a third competing licence would be awarded.

Turkcell won the bid on February 18 2004 and MTN came second. But Turkcell claims that MTN, through "unprecedented corrupt acts", blocked it from entering the agreements, clearing the regulatory environment and completing post-award obligations.

To secure the 49% stake in Irancell, MTN effectively also allegedly carried all the costs for its 51% partner through "sham loans", Turkcell says.

It is alleged in the papers that MTN paid the €300-million licence fee, capitalisation costs and share transfer tax of Iran's state-owned defence company, Sairan (also known as Iran Electronic Industries or IEI) and Bonyad (one of the five Iranian quasi-independent charitable foundations that is integral to Iran's defence establishment) in exchange for their assistance within the ministry of defence and the "Supreme Leader".

What follows is a summary of Turkcell's claims in its court application and the supporting documentation that allegedly emanates from within MTN. It has not yet been tested in court, nor has MTN commented on the authenticity of the documents.

The cash bribes: the "Long John" and "Short John" story
A few weeks after Turkcell was made the preferred bidder, Charnley met with Ghorbanoghli (Long John) in Tehran where the minister told her that MTN's only chance to oust Turkcell was to win political influence in Iran and use South Africa's influence to favour the Iranian government at the UN Security Council.

And so began "Project Snooker" -- the plan on how best to use Iranian and South African government officials to allegedly gain political influence. MTN reached out to a former deputy minister for the Iranian ministry of information and communications technology and to Mohammed Mokhber, the deputy president of a major charitable foundation known as Bonyad Mostazafan, controlled by the supreme leader of Iran.

The Bonyad foundation is controlled by the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps, the military complex formed by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and is believed to control about one-third of the Iranian economy. It is known for engaging in Iran's shadow foreign policy.

MTN was then introduced to Ebrahim Mahmoudzadeh, a former Iranian deputy minister of defence and then-president of Iran Electronic Industries, who reported directly to the Iranian minister of defence.

As one of Turkcell's local minority partners in the Irancell consortium, Mokhber and Mahmoudzadeh told MTN executives they would be willing to work with the South African company and dump Turkcell if MTN could obtain certain defence equipment, support its nuclear programme and pay for the licence and other benefits.

For example, MTN was urged to facilitate the purchase of certain military equipment from South Africa for Iran's state-owned defence company, Sairan, which was previously blocked by South Africa's national conventional arms control committee. For more than a year, MTN executives regularly visited Mahmoudzadeh and the ministry of foreign affairs to reinforce its political influence.

In about April 2004, the Iranians tested MTN's ability to deliver on defence products and nuclear votes. Sairan requested that MTN arrange a meeting with Denel, South Africa's largest manufacturer of defence equipment, as well as then-defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota.

MTN was told Iran was building its defence force and it wanted to purchase military radios, encryption technologies and pilot display computer chips manufactured in the Western Cape, which South Africa refused to sell them previously. MTN made a commitment that it could procure this equipment as well as facilitate installation of eavesdropping technologies on MTN devices were they to be awarded the 49% stake in Irancell.

The MTN board of directors, including Cyril Ramaphosa, Nhleko, Dabengwa and Charnley, received regular reports on the status of Turkcell's licence and MTN's strategies.

Enter Saloojee, "aka Small John", who was appointed South Africa's ambassador to Iran on May 23 2004. Before he left for Tehran, MTN briefed him about the licence situation and about its desire to win the licence from Turkcell. "Small John" started working closely with "Long John" and convinced the Iranian government that MTN had enough political clout to help Iran on its nuclear and defence equipment needs. Charnley was key to that mix because of her political connections in South Africa, particularly with Lekota -- she worked closely with him in the United Democratic Front during the 1980s. Ramaphosa also enjoyed a close relationship with Lekota because of their ties in the ANC.

It is well known in political circles that Charnley and Nhleko were closely aligned with former president Thabo Mbeki. Charnley is friends with Mbeki's wife, Zanele, who assisted the former MTN executive with funds to help start Smile Communications, a telecoms company.

"Small John" was also allegedly close to Mbeki, with whom he had shared a house at some point during the struggle.

In about June 2004, Saloojee invited Charnley and Nhleko to his house for dinner and that's where the discussion of the bribes for both "Small John" and "Long John" took place. Saloojee explained that he was hoping to purchase a house in South Africa for $200 000. On April 26 2007, MTN made a direct payment into a trust account for Saloojee, which was received by his property attorneys, Gildenhuys Lessing Malatji Inc. The property transaction was closed on September 26 2007.

MTN had also made a promise to Ghorbanoghli to reimburse him for his assistance and Saloojee had helped the Iranian with personal favours, such as arranging for his children to be educated in South Africa.

It was at a dinner in May 2005 that Charnley offered Ghorbanoghli a $400 000 bribe through a "sham" consultancy agency agreement to reward his efforts to politically undermine and destroy Turkcell's position as the licence holder and to deliver the licence to MTN instead. The "sham" consultancy payment was authorised by Nhleko on behalf of MTN in a memo dated December 11 2006.

Charnley was sent a confidential memo in which Ghorbanoghli says he has arranged for a friend in Dubai to receive the funds on his behalf through a company called Aristo Oil International Services.

In an invoice from Aristo it described the scope of the responsibilities as "introduce MTN-Iran to key role-players, arrange meetings and generally provide support and assistance during the negotiations and conclusion of the necessary agreements that will provide for MTN's entry into the Iranian mobile market".

Ghorbanoghli delivered on that. On September 17 2005 MTN's executive team flew to Iran and finalised agreements with the IEDC and payment structures. A day later MTN issued a notice to its board members regarding "Project Snooker" and its decision to officially take up the GSM licence in Iran.

On September 21 2005, two months before being awarded the licence, Nhleko delivered a confidential memorandum to Dabengwa, Charnley and MTN's former chief financial officer, Robert Nisbet, which was copied to the Chris Kilowan and Paul Norman setting out in detail the ground rules for "Project Snooker" and how MTN would deliver on the defence and nuclear support promises.

Weapons: The promised Denel collaboration, which clearly came off
In August 2004, MTN accompanied Lekota on a trip to Iran, which the cellphone company organised and paid for, where they struck an "arms- for-licence" deal with the Iranian ministry of defence to deliver "The Fish". Nhleko and Charnley were present at the meeting where they signed a confidential memorandum of understanding, promising that South Africa would deliver "heaven, earth, and fish", meaning the elicit arms and technology in exchange for the licence.

"The Fish" was a code for the name for a combination of military co-operation and big-ticket defence equipment, including Rooivalk helicopters, frequency-hopping encrypted military radios, sniper rifles, G5 howitzers, cannons, armoured landmine-proof personnel carriers, radar technology, pilot "heads-up" display technology and other defence articles that included US systems and components. Iran didn't have access to this equipment legitimately because of US and international sanctions against it at the time.

To reassure the Iranian authorities, MTN paid for Iran's nuclear negotiator to meet with then-president Mbeki at his Cape Town residence, a meeting which was apparently facilitated by Charnley, Ramaphosa and Saloojee through their political connections.

On November 16 2004, Charnley sent a letter via fax on behalf of MTN, copied to Saloojee, facilitating a meeting between Denel and the Iran Helicopter Support and Renewal Co. The letter indicated that Charnley had met with then-Denel chief executive Victor Moche to provide helicopter technology from Denel to produce helicopters with US Apache technology in Iran.

Denel's former head for North Africa and the Middle East, Donald Romfolo, confirmed they had been in talks with Iran's defence ministry and state arms company, Sairan, in 2004.

But he said the national conventional arms control committee barred the company from trading in Iran "because of the US sanctions". He denied any knowledge of Charnley and said he knew of no talks with MTN or pressure applied by the company.

Lekota, now president of Cope, flatly denied on Thursday that MTN had paid for any visit by him to Iran. "This is absolutely fallacious. Defence was never bankrupt when I was there."

However, he confirmed one or more visits "in my official capacity" to Iran, and he confirmed that "in one of those visits it coincided with the MTN people also travelling there -- they did form part of the South African delegation going there".

"I had meetings with the relevant minister and I think even the head of state … but at no stage did I have any meetings with the cellphone company MTN, I was never in any meeting. I had no obligation or, in fact, no power to negotiate anything on behalf of MTN. I think MTN negotiated their business with their counterparts quite independent of their mission. I could not have made any promises to the Iranian government on defence co-operation without going through Cabinet."

Later, confronted with a specific allegation that he had met his Iranian counterpart in the presence of MTN officials, he conceded that "when official business had been done … we might have been entertained, and that the businesspeople that may have been part of this visit may have been part of that".

"I deny that there was any negotiations around MTN's business interests by the ministry of defence led by myself."

Lekota denied that he would have promised any weapons outside of the arms control committee's approvals that would have to follow. "I never made any commitments of the nature you are suggesting."

In the end, and once Iran had handed the licence to MTN, it seems whatever promises about defence materiel may have been made, came to naught.

In March 2007, a year and half after MTN was awarded the licence, MTN began facing even greater pressure from its Iranian partners to deliver on some of its defence and nuclear-related promises. MTN's representative in Iran, Chris Kilowan, sent a memo to Nhleko from the Iranians calling on the company to deliver on its defence promises. "[MTN's chief executive Nhleko] should attempt as a matter of urgency to contact the president of South Africa and impress upon him that the failure to resolve the defence matters to the satisfaction of Iran will have severe negative repercussions for MTN," read the memo attached as an exhibit.

The "highly confidential" memo recounts Saloojee's description of visits to South Africa by top Iranian officials on behalf of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Khamenei dispatched Ali Larijani, then the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, to remind Mbeki "that certain defence-related promises were made by the South African minister of defence in 2004 in exchange for which MTN was allowed to replace Turkcell in the Irancell consortium".

The same memo reports that Manouchehr Mottaki, then Iran's foreign minister, was sent by Ahmadinejad to "get a direct answer" from Mbeki about South Africa's alleged promises to sell arms to Iran. Kilowan wrote in the memo: "Mottaki reiterated their understanding that MTN was allowed to replace Turkcell in exchange for defense co-operation."

On the UN Security Council vote, the memo said: "It is now a matter of public record what happened to the vote on Saturday … that South Africa also voted in favour of the sanctions."

The memo also relates Saloojee's concerns. "The Iranians did not expect the voting to go otherwise, although they were hopeful that South Africa would at least abstain. As it is, South Africa is now seen as having made a U-turn on the matter and we will have to closely monitor the reaction of the Iranians to the fact."

MTN also found itself being threatened in late 2007 by "Long John" for not delivering on its promises.

Mbeki's spokesperson, Mukoni Ratshitanga, told the M&G: "Former president Thabo Mbeki does not believe that he should oblige attempts to drag his name into this matter and will therefore not comment."

The Votes: International Atomic Energy Agency and the United Nations
Throughout 2004 and 2005, at the same time that MTN was lobbying hard to displace Turkcell, Iran came under intense pressure over its nuclear enrichment programme.

The international community had repeatedly voted against the state before the International Atomic Energy Authority and the UN Security Council, calling on it to meet its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

In fact, as Turkcell detailed, from 2004 to 2008, South Africa largely joined the votes against Iran except for a brief hiatus at the end of 2005 and the beginning of 2006, which coincided with the November 2005 license award.

"MTN learned that the Iranians understood South Africa to play a critical role in being able to lead the 'non-aligned' nations on nuclear votes in international bodies," Turkcell stated.

And so, Turkcell claims, the cellphone giant orchestrated an "informal" meeting between Mbeki and Iran's nuclear chief, Hassan Rowhani, at a dinner at Mbeki's Cape Town residence.

"MTN paid for adviser Rowhani to stay at a hotel in Cape Town, sponsored the large dinner party, and covered all travel logistics," Turkcell claims. "Consistent with MTN's promises, the president assured adviser Rowhani that the South African government would support Iran at the [International Atomic Energy Authority]."

But Mbeki, through his spokesperson, refused to comment on this account.

That September, when the International Atomic Energy Authority board found Iran not to be complying with its non-proliferation treaty obligations, South Africa abstained.

Come November 20, Turkcell detailed, MTN expected it was to be awarded the licence. Instead, the Iranians are said to have delivered the message that should South Africa vote against Iran at a crucial November 24 vote before the IAEA, it would "cause trouble".

The decision the IAEA has to make was on whether to refer Iran to the UN Security Council for breaching the NPT.

This appears to have sent the company's mavericks into a bit of a spin.

It is alleged they approached Saloojee, who approached South African ambassador to the IAEA Abdul Minty. Other frantic calls were made, and as it happened, South Africa abstained from the vote.

Three days later the Iranians issued the GSM license to MTN.

The M&G was unable to reach Minty on Thursday, but when he was approached on the matter in February, he strenuously denied having been influenced: "At no point did [MTN] approach me to influence me in any direction."

According to him, South Africa's policy on Iran at the IAEA had been "very consistent".

The "loan" to the 51% partner
After being awarded the 49% stake, MTN made good on its promises to its 51% shareholder, carrying all its costs. MTN agreed to pay the IEDC's $88-million capital share of MTN Irancell as well as their share of the $300-million licence fee.

The Iranian partners were clear that they were not willing to pay any "interest" on, or put up security for, a "loan". Charnley presented the proposed arrangement to MTN. Rob Nisbett, the chief financial officer, was apparently shocked at the proposal and refused to permit the deal on "improper and unsecured terms".

He insisted that a formal loan agreement be negotiated and entered into with the parties. He also threatened to resign if this was not done.

On November 15 2005 MTN Group directed its subsidiary, MTN International (Mauritius) Ltd, to enter into sham "loan" agreements with the IEDC. Nisbett still voiced concern about this arrangement and informed the executive team that the "loans" put MTN at huge risk. Nhleko issued Nisbett with a formal written warning for opposing the financial terms and was instructed to authorise the transaction.

Documents show MTN made the "loans" through a series of complex "round trip" agreements by shifting the funds around between the IEDC, MTN-Irancell, and MTN Group, which it then recorded on its books as loans.

By the time the loans were due, MTN-Irancell was highly profitable -- $118-million profit in 2007, $234-million in 2008, $516-million in 2009, $583-million in 2010 and at least $503-million projected for 2011.

Charnley did not respond to numerous messages left on her cellphone and with an assistant in her office. An automatic message at Saloojee's office -- the South African embassy in Oman where he is ambassador -- said staff did not work on Thursdays, and emails were not answered.

Spokespeople for Nhleko and Ramaphosa said they would pass on the M&G's respective messages, but neither responded in time for print deadline.

Department of International Affairs and Cooperation spokesperson Clayson Monyela could not be reached, but last month he denied that any company had influence over South Africa's foreign policy.

Calls to Iran's embassy in South Africa were placed on hold, after which no calls were answered.

Claim 'has no legal merit and will be opposed'
MTN and its legal advisers were locked in all-day meetings yesterday, filing its JSE news service (Sens) announcement only at 5.30pm in response to the explosive claims made by Turkcell in a lawsuit filed in the Washington Federal Court at 2am South African time.

Africa's largest cellphone operator said the claim had still not been served, but that it would oppose it. The company reiterated that there was "no legal merit" to Turkcell's claim and no basis for such a claim to be brought before a United States court. It also noted the South African government's denial of the allegations that MTN exercised influence over it.

In advance of Turkcell filing its claim, MTN announced the formation of an independent committee, under the chairmanship of internationally renowned jurist Lord Hoffmann, to investigate Turkcell's allegations. The Hoffmann committee has already begun its investigations and will report its findings to the MTN board, with any recommendations on actions to be taken as a result of its findings, including their publication.

"The Hoffmann committee has invited Turkcell to participate in its investigation, but Turkcell has to date not done so," MTN said in the statement. "The invitation remains open to Turkcell to participate in the Hoffmann committee's investigation."

Turkcell has been threatening to take MTN to the US courts for corruption since February 2, but held out for a settlement from MTN first before it filed. MTN has been calling its bluff by refusing to settle out of court, claiming extortion.

Turkcell has argued that MTN has many business interests in the US and that the cellphone company has violated the Alien Tort Statute, a 1789 law that gives US courts jurisdiction in some instances to consider claims by foreigners for illegal conduct that occurred in another country. The law is usually cited in human rights and torture cases.

Meanwhile, Turkcell was yesterday dealing with its own set of issues relating to infighting among its board and shareholders.

Reuters reported that the board met to discuss its structure and independent board members. Having founded Turkcell in 1994, Mehmet Emin Karamehmet is locked in a boardroom struggle with the other main shareholders in Turkcell: Altimo and Nordic telecommunications group TeliaSonera.

Turkcell's board has seven members. The three main shareholders -- Cukurova, Altimo and TeliaSonera -- each has two seats. Chairperson Colin Williams is the designated independent board member. Altimo and TeliaSonera want him replaced because they say he sides with Cukurova, Reuters reports. TeliaSonera has a 37% stake in Turkcell, whereas Altimo has a 13.2% stake it bought from Karamehmet in 2005. However, Cukurova's 13.8% stake carries controlling rights because of Turkcell's structure. -- Sharda Naidoo

Sharda Naidoo is assistant business editor; Craig McKune and Stefaans Brümmer are investigators with the M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism (amaBhungane).


Comments by Sonny

This sounds like a "Front Company" for Chancellor House and the ANC.....?


The top article is similar to the Libyan "Oil for Food" scandal which was swept under

the carpet some years ago....

DA takes oil scandal to Madonsela

Published 08 Dec 2011

Article by: Sapa

The Democratic Alliance will ask Public Protector Thuli Mandonsela to investigate the involvement of South African companies or individuals in the "oil for food" scandal, its leader Helen Zille said on Wednesday.

"The question is why did it take the presidency five years and a legal tug of war with Independent Newspapers to release a report in which no former or current member of government is implicated?" she asked, referring to the Donen Commission report.

The report into allegations of illicit activities in the United Nations' Iraq oil-for-food programme found that no one whose name featured in the investigation had contravened any South African law.

"It has to be stressed that the Donen report does not make any definitive final findings in respect of the conduct of the named individuals in so far as the impact of such conduct on [United Nations] resolutions and policy is concerned," presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said on Wednesday.

President Jacob Zuma released the report earlier in the day.

The commission was established on February 17, 2006, by then president Thabo Mbeki to investigate alleged illicit activities by certain South African companies or individuals relating to the UN programme.

Maharaj said Mbeki had refused the commission's last request for extra time and the commission consequently handed in its final report in September 2006.

Interim reports had been handed in in May and June that year.

"Former president Mbeki decided against releasing the report pending the advice from the chief state law adviser and due to its incompleteness among other reasons."

Maharaj said it was important to note that all those caught up in the subject matter of the inquiry were not the subjects of the commission's investigation.

They also did not have an opportunity to present their version of events fully.

"In addition, much of the commission's collection of information did not involve evidence on oath with the test of cross-examination being applied," he said.

Released with the three-part report was a letter written by the chairman advocate Michael Donen SC, to the then director general in the presidency, dated August 28, 2009.

"He wrote it because he found that the leaked versions of the commission report first published in the media on 23 August 2009, had created misconceptions about the true content of the commission reports," Maharaj said.

"These misconceptions severely impugned the character and dignity of several persons."

The commission found that no one whose name featured in their investigation had contravened any South African law.

Donen's letter explicitly stated that the three people "named" by the media -- Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale, and the DG of the minerals and energy department Sandile Nogxina -- were not the subjects of the commission's investigation.

Motlanthe, who was at the time the secretary-general of the ANC, had intervened with the authorities in Iraq to ensure that they adhered to the decisions and rules determined by the UN programme.

Donen said Nogxina had "made a valuable contribution to the commission's work", that "no blame could be attached to the DG", and that "his personal involvement as a participant in illicit activities was so remote as to not even warrant any consideration of his culpability or otherwise".

Regarding Sexwale, the commission "exonerated Mr Sexwale from liability as a participant in illicit activities".

"The comments made in the report are not to be elevated to findings of fact. These were interim and untried comments as the report recognises. They must be treated as such," Maharaj said.

The report proposed actions or steps to be taken to prevent companies or persons falling under South African jurisdiction from becoming involved in future
illegal or irregular international activities, including sanctions-busting in respect of internationally imposed sanctions.

Zuma has asked Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Jeff Radebe to review the documentation and consider passing the relevant legislation and amend existing legislation to rectify any shortcomings in domestic law, Maharaj said.

Edited by: Sapa


Offer of ‘UN votes, bribes’ for MTN’s Iran licence

South African operator denies shock claims in Turkish rival’s $4,2bn action
Published: 2012/03/30 06:55:28 AM
MTN bribed officials, arranged meetings between Iranian and South African leaders, and promised Iran weapons and United Nations (UN) votes in exchange for a licence to provide cell phone services in the Islamic Republic, Turkcell alleges in a lawsuit.

Turkey’s leading cellphone operator, which was initially awarded the Iranian cell phone licence, sued MTN yesterday in a federal court in Washington for $4,2bn in damages.

The court papers included several alleged internal MTN memos that detailed its efforts to win the Iranian business after losing the bid to Turkcell in 2004.

"Upset by the loss of the open competition, MTN sought to obtain illegally what it could not obtain through honest competition and thereafter embarked on a premeditated programme of corruption through bribery and trading in influence," the complaint read.

MTN said in a statement yesterday it "continues to believe" that there is no legal merit to Turkcell’s claim and no basis for it to be brought before a US court. It said it would oppose the claim.

The company had formed an independent committee, under the chairmanship of internationally renowned jurist Lord Hoffmann, to investigate Turkcell’s allegations.

The committee had begun its investigations and would report its findings to the MTN board. Turkcell had been invited to participate in the inquiry, but "has to date not done so", MTN said.

The licence tender was "the largest new international telecommunications opportunity in the world and was known to involve the largest single investment opportunity into Iran since the 1979 revolution", according to the Turkcell court papers.

MTN dropped as much as 2% to R136,66 yesterday. The stock has declined 4,8% this year, giving MTN a market value of R258bn.

According to memos submitted to the court, MTN code-named the Iranian effort "Project Snooker" and described payoffs to Javid Ghorbanoghli, then Iran’s deputy foreign minister, dubbed "Long-J" in the memos, and Yusuf Saloojee, SA’s ambassador in Tehran at the time, code-named "Short-J’’.

The men were allegedly paid $400000 and $200000 respectively, according to the papers.

In a September 21 2005 memo attached to the court papers, then-MTN CEO Phuthuma Nhleko wrote that "Project Snooker still presents one of the most significant ‘virgin’ mobile opportunities in the world". That week, MTN signed deals with Iran "under duress" so as to "book our place at the foot of the mountain".

MTN prevailed upon SA’s government to abstain from three votes on Iran’s nuclear energy programme at the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna in 2005 and 2006, said the complaint. The Iranian communications ministry allegedly told MTN it was withholding its licence until it saw how SA voted.

SA’s IAEA representative, Abdul Minty, abstained from a vote on Iran in November 2005. The licence was delivered three days later, the complaint stated.

It said in August 2004, MTN struck a deal with Ali Shamkhani, then Iran’s defence minister, to facilitate SA’s military co-operation and the delivery of defence equipment, including Rooivalk helicopters, rifles, armoured personnel carriers and radar technology. MTN executives and Iranian officials gave the arms shopping list the code name "The Fish", according to the complaint.

Much of the equipment was not available to Iran through legitimate channels because of US and international restrictions.

While MTN had promised it could deliver military aid, no arms sales took place, angering Iranian officials, Turkcell claimed.

Turkcell’s complaint cites violations of the Alien Tort Statute, a 1789 law that gives US courts jurisdiction to consider claims by foreigners for illegal conduct that occurred in another country. It is usually cited in human rights and torture cases.

On March 12, MTN issued a statement accusing Turkcell of attempted extortion. It said Turkcell had threatened a lawsuit alleging improper payments to an Iranian and a South African official. MTN said at the time that any such suit lacked merit.

It said it had established a committee of nonexecutive directors to investigate Turkcell’s allegations.

The claims against MTN included aiding and abetting the violation of US treaties, "tortuous" interference with a contract, defamation and breach of contract related to a confidentiality agreement that Turkcell alleged MTN had violated.

A "highly confidential" March 2007 memo to MTN’s CE from its Iran representative, Chris Kilowan, recounted Mr Saloojee’s description of visits to SA by top Iranian officials on behalf of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Mr Khamenei dispatched Ali Larijani, then secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, to remind former president Thabo Mbeki " certain defence-related promises were made by the South African minister of defence in 2004 in exchange for which MTN was allowed to replace Turkcell in the Irancell consortium", read the memo.

Mr Mbeki "would not like to be drawn into the matter", his spokesman, Mukoni Ratshitanga, said yesterday.

Clayson Monyela, spokesman for the Department of International Affairs and Co-operation, yesterday declined to comment on the suit.

Turkcell’s agreement suffered a setback in 2005 when Iran’s parliament ordered it to reduce its stake from 70% to 49%, deeming that foreign control of the joint venture was a threat to Iran’s security. Turkcell agreed, and paid the licence fee in September 2005.

As part of the new deal, MTN, which controlled only 49% of the Irancell consortium, agreed to pay the capitalisation costs, taxes and licence fees owed by the Iranian shareholders, the complaint alleged. The payments, including $88m in capitalisation costs, were allegedly disguised as loans that "MTN knew at the time would not be repaid", the court papers read.

Turkcell said MTN’s business dealings in the US were "extensive", giving the US court so-called personal jurisdiction over the company.


Court rules in favour of MTN in Swaziland


Monday, March 26, 2012

Durban cops shoot 11 dead

Inanda Durban cops shoot 11 dead
March 26 2012 at 10:40am
By Bongani Hans and Kyle Venktess


Bullet holes litter the wall of a house in Inanda, KZN, where seven alleged criminals were killed in a shootout with police. Pictures: Bongani Mbatha

In a bloody weekend in Durban, police shot and killed 11 men in three incidents. Seven men died in one incident alone. Police said they were all crime suspects.

The shootings come as the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) is investigating the killing of at least 45 suspects by members of the disbanded Durban Organised Crime Unit in KZN.

The weekend’s action by the police Tactical Response Team and Inanda Crime Prevention Unit was praised by KwaZulu-Natal Community Safety MEC Willies Mchunu, who said: “I commend the police for the good work. These incidents once again prove that our police are dedicated in protecting our communities at all cost.

“This is a strong warning to all criminals that police are going to face fire with fire in deadly circumstances.”

But KwaZulu-Natal violence monitor Mary de Haas said she was concerned that the Tactical Response Team, formed by now-suspended police national commissioner General Bheki Cele, was involved in the killings.

“They must be disbanded and the ICD should take over the investigation. Police should never be allow to handle the investigation,” said De Haas.

Residents stand outside a house in Inanda in which seven alleged crime suspects were killed by police officers. Picture; Bongani Mbatha


All the shootings happened in Inanda, north of Durban, on Saturday. Officers shot and killed seven suspects who had gathered for a drinking spree in a house in the Amaoti area at about 5pm.

Police went to the house to investigate reports that the suspects had occupied the house illegally and were armed and dangerous. Police say the suspects opened fire on them. Mdunge said police returned fire, but none of the police officers was hurt.

Police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Vincent Mdunge said two unlicensed 9mm pistols and an AK-47 rifle had been recovered.

The owner of the house, Thabisile Mhlongo, denied complaining to the police about her house being illegally occupied.

Mhlongo said she had been renting the house to one of the men shot dead, who was identified only as Saphulelo “Rasta” from Mbizana in the Eastern Cape. Neighbours described Saphulelo as a quiet man who worked for a construction company.

“I had been renting this house to Saphulelo for the past three months. I did not know the other men, who were killed with him,” said Mhlongo.

However, two other residents said police had done an “excellent job” by killing the seven.

“We were very scared of them because they would walk around the area brandishing firearms,” said a resident.

In the first incident early on Saturday, three suspects were killed after police had received a tip-off about nine men who were terrorising community members at a tavern. The men had allegedly robbed the tavern owner of R5 000 and stolen cash from patrons.

After the shooting, five of their alleged accomplices were in a critical condition at Mahatma Gandhi Hospital in Phoenix, while another managed to flee.

“When police arrived the suspects fired shots, which forced the police to retaliate. Two men died at the scene, while another died in hospital.

“At about 9am, a suspect was killed in another section of Inanda after he had also tried to shoot at the police,” said Mdunge.

Police had been alerted to two armed men who were terrorising residents. Mdunge said when police arrived, one suspect escaped, but the other fired at the police, who returned fire and killed him. They recovered a CZ 7.65 mm pistol from the suspect.

After the shootings, Mdunge commended police action against armed suspects.

“The shooting by police is a justifiable homicide in the eyes of the law. We will never allow our police officers to be killed by criminals while they are able to protect themselves. Police were equal to the task,” he said.

Mdunge said police had gone to the house after receiving a complaint about a group of men who had illegally occupied it. When police arrived they were met by a hail of bullets.

He said the killings were being investigated by the ICD .

ICD spokesman Moses Dlamini said his unit was investigating, and he would comment after the conclusion of the investigation. - The Mercury

Saturday, March 24, 2012

EU to back strikes on Somali pirates

EU to back strikes on Somali pirates
2012-03-22 22:36

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Brussels - The European Union will probably approve plans on Friday to strike Somali pirate equipment on beaches, widening the scope of its naval operations four years into a mission to protect shipping.

Germany had voiced reservations about plans to allow EU warships and helicopters to fire at trucks, supplies, boats and fuel stowed on the coast of Somalia, but a minister indicated on Thursday that Berlin would now back the plans.

"Military officers say they want to render harmless the ships on the beach that could be used. This was a convincing argument," German deputy defence minister Christian Schmidt said after a meeting of EU defence chiefs in Brussels.

EU officials have stressed that the new mandate would not call for the deployment of troops on the ground in Somalia.

"We made clear that this should be limited actions against assets on the edge of the beach. Piracy must be fought at sea," Schmidt said.

Following months of debate, the decision is expected to be taken when EU foreign ministers meet on Friday, one day after the defence chiefs, EU officials said.

The ministers will also formally approve the extension of the EU mission, Operation Atalanta, until December 2014.

The German participation in the expanded mandate, however, will have to be submitted to the parliament in Berlin for approval, Schmidt said.

The operation off the Horn of Africa, which will soon grow from six to nine ships, escorts vessels carrying humanitarian aid to Somalia and polices the key shipping route to thwart pirate attacks.

Warships and helicopters will have "very well defined conditions" for firing at pirate equipment in order to avoid harming people, a European official said, noting that Germany and other nations wanted strict rules of engagement.

The EU mission is one of several international anti-piracy operations off Somalia.

Nato agreed this week to extend its own mission until late 2014, with four ships under Turkish commmand. But the trans-Atlantic alliance has not authorised strikes on land targets.


Read more on: eu | nato | | somalia | pirates | east africa

Monday, March 19, 2012

Public Protector must investigate Crime Intelligence - Kohler Barnard

Public Protector must investigate Crime Intelligence - Kohler Barnard
Dianne Kohler Barnard
19 March 2012

DA MP says unit has become a battleground in ANC's factional skirmishes ahead of Mangaung

Public Protector must probe Mdluli and Inspector General of Intelligence

I will today be writing to the Public Protector to request that her office investigates the ongoing saga at the Police Crime Intelligence Unit. The unit has become a battleground for the ANC's factional political skirmishes in the run-up to the party's elective conference in Mangaung later this year.

Reports in the City Press this weekend indicate that suspended Crime Intelligence boss Richard Mdluli "stands accused of rampant looting" of the unit (see here). Despite this, the Hawks, having exposed the rot in the unit, were recently told to suspend all investigations into Mdluli, and other crime intelligence fraud and corruption.

This follows on the back of murder and fraud charges against Mdluli having been withdrawn in what increasingly looks like attempts by senior politicians and securocrats to secure Mdluli's return as National Police Commissioner. Mdluli allegedly has President Zuma's sympathy and support due to his instrumental role in exposing attempts by senior ANC members trying to topple the President.

Reports this weekend outlined the extent of Mdluli's "alleged reign of plunder" in the unit since his appointment by President Zuma's Cabinet in 2009. This is contained in a classified police report compiled by senior crime intelligence Majors General Chris de Kock and Mark Hankel, detailing what the Hawks had found and were investigating.

According to the City Press, the document reveals:

Mdluli's family members were appointed to the crime intelligence agent programme without performing any undercover operations.
Mdluli allegedly abused covert state vehicles to which he was not entitled.
A crime intelligence whistle-blower was abducted by other crime intelligence operatives.
A "prominent person" from KwaZulu-Natal was allegedly placed in crime intelligence to influence suspended police boss Bheki Cele.
Mdluli "abused" a travel agent in Durban, with he and his family travelling more than 50 times on the state's cost.
Various safe houses were rented by the police for the sole use of Mdluli and his family.
Mdluli had a "constant need for cash".
Two journalists were allegedly paid - one R100 000 to write a positive story about the police and the other R50 000 not to publish a story about a senior cop.
Evidence was uncovered from which it appears that crime intelligence "sought to influence political processes in KwaZulu-Natal through the deployment of a select few covert intelligence fieldworkers" in the province. This included "buying influence and access".

The report was apparently submitted to the Inspector General of Intelligence (IGI), Advocate Faith Radebe, in November last year and urges that Radebe "act now on this matter rather than later" because there was allegedly a "concerted effort from within crime intelligence ... to derail the probe".

The Public Protector should therefore not only investigate the conduct of Richard Mdluli but also the failure of the IGI to fulfil her constitutional and statutory responsibilities in terms of intelligence oversight. Additionally, the potential political interference that lead to the Hawks dropping their investigation must also be investigated by an adequately independent institution.

The Public Protector, in terms of section 6(4)(a) of the Public Protector Act, is empowered to investigate maladministration in connection with the affairs of government at any level as well as abuse or unjustifiable exercise of power or unfair, capricious or other improper conduct or undue delay by a person performing a public function.

A full investigation must be carried out into both Mdluli's conduct, and the failure of the Inspector General of Intelligence to adequately arrest the ongoing political abuse of state security services for factional purposes. The South African people deserve to know the truth.

Statement issued by Dianne Kohler Barnard MP, DA Shadow Minister of Police, March 19 2012

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Zuma spy's dirty files

In 2001 Sexwale was accused, along with Cyril Ramaphosa and Mathews Phosa, of plotting to depose President Thabo Mbeki. Sexwale denied the charges and all three received the backing of Nelson Mandela; they were later exonerated from all accusations.[citation needed]

In 2002, he was refused a visa to enter the United States, which kept him from attending the listing of Gold Fields (a company in which he holds a 15 percent stake) on the New York Stock Exchange. It later transpired that he, along with many prominent South African anti-apartheid figures such as Nelson Mandela and South African cabinet minister Sidney Mufamadi, were still on that country's list of global terrorists. After initiating legal action (going so far as to having papers served on the U.S. Department of State) and following personal intervention by Condoleezza Rice[citation needed], Sexwale and the others received ten-year waivers from the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Department of Homeland Security, as the government felt that permanently delisting them would mean changing the law, which would be a lengthy process. In April 2008 the waiver was lifted and the ANC members along with the ANC were removed from the terrorist list in the USA.
( Wikipedia)

Zuma spy's dirty files
2012-03-18 12:04

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Paddy Harper and Adriaan Basson, City Press
Cape Town - The man tipped to become South Africa’s next police chief stands accused of rampant looting of the crime intelligence unit.

But Lieutenant General Richard Mdluli is ­unlikely to face criminal charges for his alleged deeds.

The Hawks, which uncovered the rot in crime intelligence, were recently told to ­suspend all investigations into Mdluli, and ­other crime intelligence fraud and corruption.

A secret 13-page police report, leaked to City Press, lifts the lid on the extent of Mdluli’s ­alleged reign of plunder at the unit since he was appointed as the police’s chief spy by President Jacob Zuma’s Cabinet in July 2009.

Mdluli was interviewed and recommended by a committee consisting solely of four Cabinet ministers from Zuma’s inner circle.


The report, compiled by senior crime intelligence Majors General Chris de Kock and Mark Hankel, was submitted to the Inspector General of Intelligence (IGI), Advocate Faith Radebe, on November 4 last year.

It details what the Hawks have found and were investigating, and makes a desperate plea to Radebe to “act now on this matter rather than later” before the facts of the investigation ­become public knowledge.

Mdluli was suspended last year after being arrested for murder and fraud.

Both charges have since been withdrawn in what are seen as attempts by senior politicians and securocrats to secure Mdluli’s return to the police,­ultimately replacing General Bheki Cele as head of police.

Mdluli reportedly has Zuma’s sympathy and support - partly because of a 22-page “Ground Coverage Intelligence Report” detailing an ­alleged plot by Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale and other ANC politicians, called the “Mvela Group”, to topple Zuma at the ANC’s Mangaung conference in December.

Abused state cars

Mdluli was also in charge of detectives in Gauteng during Zuma’s failed rape prosecution.

The secret report states it was submitted to Radebe four days after De Kock and Hankel briefed her on what the Hawks had found on Mdluli and other senior crime intelligence agents.

At the time, De Kock, who is the head of police crime statistics, was acting as divisional commissioner of crime intelligence.

It is clear from the report that the authors were well briefed on the Hawks’ investigation. Hankel was the “interlocutor” who communicated with the Hawks on behalf of crime­ ­intelligence.

The report reveals:

- Mdluli’s family members were appointed to the crime intelligence agent programme without performing any undercover operations;

- Mdluli allegedly abused covert state vehicles that he was not entitled to;

- A crime intelligence whistle-blower was abducted by other crime intelligence operatives;

- A “prominent person” from KwaZulu-Natal was allegedly placed in crime intelligence to ­influence suspended police boss Bheki Cele;

- Mdluli “abused” a travel agent in Durban, with he and his family travelling more than 50 times on the state’s cost;

- Various safe houses were rented by the police for the sole use of Mdluli and his family;

- Mdluli had a “constant need for cash”;

- Two journalists were allegedly paid - one R100 000 to write a positive story about the police and the other R50 000 not to publish a story about a senior cop; and

- Evidence was uncovered from which it ­appears that crime intelligence “sought to influence political processes in KwaZulu-Natal through the deployment of a select few covert intelligence fieldworkers” in the province. This included “buying influence and access”.

Derail probe

Almost prophetically, De Kock and Hankel wrote there was a “concerted effort from within crime derail the probe”.

Four months after submitting their report, Hawks boss Anwa Dramat has now suspended all investigations into crime intelligence fraud and corruption.

His spokesperson, Colonel McIntosh Polela, said he could not comment on internal matters, but City Press understands Dramat took his cue from acting police boss ­Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi.

Mkhwanazi’s spokesperson, Brigadier­ ­Lindela Mashigo, said “under normal circumstances the correspondence or communication between SAPS and the IGI is not meant for ­publicity purposes”.

The police would not comment on this process in the media, but “remains committed to rooting out corruption, fraud and maladministration within the entire service. A restructuring process of crime intelligence is under way and the media is urged to respect that course of reorganisation of that division,” Mashigo said.

Mdluli’s attorney, Ike Motloung, said the questions by City Press showed “how elements in the SAPS and their cohorts in the media have stooped so low that they no longer have a sense of what is intelligence material or not...and no longer care about the law regarding intelligence operations or exposure of intelligence operations or operatives”.

De Kock said he could not speak to the media. The IGI’s office had no comment on the case.

- City Press

Read more on: jacob zuma | richard mdludli | tokyo sexwale | bheki cele | nhlanhla mkhwanazi | crime | politics

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Comical cops pass the buck

Comical cops pass the buck
Monica Laganparsad | 18 March, 2012 00:17

THE testimonies of SAPS chief operations officer Lieutenant-General Bonang Mgwenya and KwaZulu-Natal provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Mmamonnye Ngobeni were always going to be crucial.

Both women hold powerful positions, having been hand-picked by General Bheki Cele himself after he took office in 2009.

But their testimonies and performances under oath belied their exalted positions and might just have sealed his fate.

This week, they fell over themselves trying to explain their way out of the controversial R1.7-billion lease deals, without much success.

Ngobeni and Mgwenya tried to shift the blame onto the now retired head of supply-chain management, General Hamilton Hlela.

The board of inquiry was set up by President Jacob Zuma to probe Cele's fitness for office after the public protector found that the procurement of the two building leases was unlawful.

The police had initially struck the deal with business tycoon Roux Shabangu.

On Thursday, Mgwenya said she went with Hlela and Cele's legal adviser, General Julius Molefe, on the first site visit to the Middestad building in Pretoria in March 2010.

She said she was ''invited" to view the building at Hlela's request, even though property procurement was not part of her job.

Embarrassingly, she first claimed she had never been to the building before and did not know where it was.

But when told by the inquiry chairman, Judge Jake Moloi, that the building was a ''stone's throw away" from the police's current head office, she admitted: ''It's across the road."

She then told the inquiry that although she had worked across the road from Middestad for 16 years, she had never noticed the building, because she worked "mostly at nights" and was never ''idle".

Molefe, however, appeared to be more alert to his surroundings.

When asked about the building, he gestured wildly with his hands and said: " It says 'Sanlam' in big, bold writing ... everyone knows that building.''

He said he could not remember if Shabangu was at the meeting, while Mgwenya, in response to the same questions, said: ''There were a number of men."

It took several questions to jog her memory, and she finally confirmed that the businessman was, indeed, in attendance.

After Mgwenya's amnesia-struck performance, it was the turn of Ngobeni. KwaZulu-Natal's top cop tried hard to explain why she could not be reached by the board earlier in the week, saying she had not been ''emotionally or psychologically" prepared.

She was named by a senior public works official as having identified the Transnet building in Durban as the base for the SAPS provincial headquarters.

She initially dodged direct questions and responded with sometimes incoherent and lengthy explanations.

This eventually led to an inquiry member, Advocate Terry Motau, reprimanding her: "If you can't recall, then answer that you can't recall."

She brought some light relief and drew chuckles from the gallery when, quizzed about a site meeting at the building, she asked the inquiry panel to explain its definition of a meeting.

She said: ''I'm trying to understand the meaning of a meeting ... is it people sitting around a table or something else?"

Ngobeni was implicated last week as a central figure in the decision to lease the Transnet building during testimony by the KwaZulu-Natal head of procurement, Brigadier Alph-eus Ngema.

He said that, on a site visit, he had raised concerns about the absence of a public works official.

But Ngobeni's "instructions to me were to obtain the information regarding the occupation of the current building, because she had a meeting that afternoon at the airport with ... Cele regarding the same issue".

But Ngobeni this week disputed that, saying: "I find it strange that I would collect info and give it to somebody at the airport. That's not how we work in the SAPS."

On Friday, the inquiry was forced to postpone proceedings when the final witness it called pleaded ill-health.

Mokgaetji Tlolane, an official of the Department of Public Works, first delayed proceedings on Tuesday by refusing to testify unless she was given immunity from prosecution .

When she eventually took the stand on Friday, Tlolane on three occasions said she did not understand how to take the prescribed oath.

This forced the judge to intervene. He told her to say: "So help me, God." But immediately after taking the oath, Tlolane told the board: ''I won't be able to testify. I am not feeling well. I'll testify when the doctor confirms I'm in a condition to do so."

This left the board with no choice but to postpone the inquiry until the end of March.

Tlolane was identified by Shabangu, according to papers filed by him in a court case, as the official who told him that the police wanted to lease the Middestad building and that a negotiated process would follow, instead of it going out to tender.

Shabangu and the Department of Public Works are currently embroiled in a court action to decide on the validity of the Middestad lease.
Politics of paranoia:
How JZ is winning the spy battle

Control of the intelligence services is emerging as a crucial and destructive battleground in the run-up to the ANC's national conference at Mangaung, according to a range of senior security sources.

The process appears to be a rerun of the pre-Polokwane period, which was characterised by factional abuse of the security services and at its height resulted in the crime intelligence division intercepting conversations between then-Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy and supporters of president Thabo Mbeki, including former prosecutions boss Bulelani Ngcuka and Mbeki himself.

The sources, who spoke to the Mail & Guardian on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issues, placed the current political battle to secure the survival of suspended crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli at the apex of their concerns.

Said one veteran senior manager: "I believe that it's about the run-up to Mangaung -- it's about who is going to control the [communications] interception capacity of the state."

The sources also referenced the recent departure of the country's top three spy officials as symptomatic of the problem.

State Security Agency director general Jeff Maqetuka and his deputy for domestic intelligence, Lizo Njenje, quit last year amid allegations that the agency was in "crisis" and state security minister Siyabonga Cwele had pushed Njenje to spy on Cabinet colleagues.

Foreign intelligence supremo Moe Shaik left last month following a protracted battle with Cwele.

In several developments flowing from the politicisation of the security services the M&G can reveal that:
•The broad investigation of abuses in the Crime Intelligence Service (CIS) initiated by the Hawks has been put on ice;

•Hawks boss Anwa Dramat was angered by the December withdrawal of fraud charges against Mdluli, which formed part of the CIS probe;

•Several sources have said that Dramat is on the brink of resigning or being fired; and

•There has been a lobbying campaign against Lieutenant General Godfrey Lebeya, who has been in charge of the police disciplinary process against Mdluli and is regarded as an obstacle to his return.
Probe in the balance
According to a senior source, the instruction to Dramat to "suspend" the crime intelligence probe came from acting police commissioner Major General Nhlanhla Sibusiso Mkhwanazi, who was appointed by President Jacob Zuma in the wake of his suspension of Bheki Cele.

It appears that Mkhwanazi was taking his cue from Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, who has attempted to shift the inquiry into the financial abuses of the police's covert fund to the inspector general of intelligence, advocate Faith Radebe.

The Citizen reported earlier this month that more than a dozen investigation dockets relating to crime intelligence funds had been transferred to the inspector general of intelligence on Mthethwa's instructions.

The minister's spokesperson was quoted as saying Mthethwa was within his rights to involve Radebe, saying the inspector general herself had raised some of the issues and Mthethwa had asked her to follow them up.

But critics have charged that Radebe was simply being used to sideline the Hawks' investigation.

Mthethwa is regarded as a key Cabinet ally of Zuma and it may be that a secret probe by Radebe would more readily contain any fallout from the Mdluli matter than a criminal investigation by the Hawks.

Allegations being probed include claims that vehicles were illegally purchased for relatives and payments were authorised to family and friends posing as sources or agents.

Said one senior source: "The rumours have been that there were significant political beneficiaries to the secret service account. There appears to have been a policy to corrupt the politicians as they come through.

Now the Hawks have been told to stop the investigation and use the inspector general … There is huge tension -- Dramat is on the edge of being fired for taking a stand on a number of issues, including the CIS investigation. His view is that it is so rotten it has to be abolished."

Mdluli fights back
The Hawks investigation was part of a probe that led to fraud charges being laid against Mdluli in relation to allegations that he received discounts in return for official vehicle purchases.

The charges, which Mdluli claimed were part of a political conspiracy against him, were controversially withdrawn in mid-December.

The decision has been partly blamed for tension between specialist commercial crime prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach -- who was in charge of the case against Mdluli -- and her superiors, who ordered the prosecution to be halted.

Said one senior police source: "Office talk is that Mdluli wants to come back. Politicians are protecting Mdluli …"

Dramat has expressed anger to colleagues over the withdrawal of the charges, the M&G was told, citing what he saw as political interference to protect Mdluli.

Mdluli is still facing internal disciplinary proceedings, but even those appear to be in the balance.

According to one well-placed source, a key ally of Mdluli has been lobbying both the president's office and senior police officers on Mdluli's behalf and against the man to whom he reported, General Lebeya.

Said one source: "Lebeya is a career cop and he doesn't want Mdluli back, on principle. Also, Lebeya would have been part of all the disciplinary processes when charges were investigated against Mdluli, so that could add to the reasons why Mdluli is targeting him."

The police have been tight lipped about the disciplinary charges against Mdluli, but they are said to include the way in which he allegedly declassified the so-called Mdluli dossier when he distributed it.

The dossier, which was apparently sent to Zuma and also leaked to the media, was key to Mdluli's fight-back campaign after he became aware of a decade-old murder investigation involving him that had been revived soon after Cele took over as national police commissioner.

The dossier contained top secret allegations that Cele was part of a political conspiracy by Zuma's political rivals and was purportedly declassified by Mdluli himself, prior to its distribution. However, it is understood that Mdluli may claim that his signature was forged.

Said one source: "The suspicion is [that] they will use this as a basis for withdrawing the disciplinary charges against him."

Contrast with Cele
Cele's fortunes could not be more different. He has been suspended and is facing a judicial board of inquiry into his involvement in the alleged improper leasing of new police headquarters.

Asked to comment, police spokesperson Brigadier Lindela Mashigo said: "Unfortunately, the merits of the cases ... cannot be discussed in public platforms because that affects the constitutional rights of individuals concerned."

A senior police officer said that the Mdluli dossier appeared to have been successful in feeding Zuma's sense of distrust: "It has created fertile ground for Mdluli to exploit the political conditions and try to get back into the police."

That may be working. A senior official close to Zuma told the M&G that the president viewed Mdluli as the "top cop" in the country. Said one seasoned intelligence official: "They have done to Zuma what the same Iagos did to Mbeki … they have fuelled the politics of paranoia."

Another put it more bluntly: "It seems Mdluli has several people by the balls."

* Got a tip-off for us about this story? Email
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ANC wants property deal probe

NASHIRA DAVIDS | 15 March, 2012 00:24

Mathole Motshekga. File photo.

What do a prime property in the Cape Town CBD, the ANC and the DA have in common? The answer: the public protector.

ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga kicked up a stink about the R106-million sale of prime property belonging to media giant Naspers to the City of Cape Town.

Yesterday Motshekga confirmed that he had called on the public protector to investigate after experts, quoted in the media, valued the site at about R50-million.

"Should the deal be allowed to proceed, taxpayers will have to pay over R50-million more than the estimated value of the property," Motshekga said in his letter to the public protector.

"The office of the chief whip finds it gravely unacceptable and unfair to expect the public to pay more than double the property's market value - which looks extremely inflated."

Motshekga said that, because of the "extraordinarily and unjustifiably high price involved" questions should be raised about the nature of the relationship between Naspers and the DA.

He accused Naspers of being guilty of "shameful greed".

On Sunday, the city's deputy mayor, Ian Neilson, said the land has been earmarked for the expansion of the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

"The amount offered by the city for the site has been determined after extensive analysis by the city's own valuers, as well as by an independent valuer, and is in line with market prices," said Neilson.

He said he believed the ANC was guilty of political opportunism of "the worst kind" and that the party should instead focus its attention on settling its R1.8-million bill from the convention centre.

The ANC held its provincial congress there two years ago.

Neilson said yesterday that the property next to the recently acquired site was sold by the ANC provincial government in 2008 for R105-million.

He said both sites were virtually identical and sold for almost the same price.

Kgalalelo Masibi, spokesman for the public protector, confirmed that she had received Motshekga's complaint and that a preliminary inquiry will be made.

The convention centre's CEO, Rashid Toefy, said the deal was done on a market-related price.

Times Live

Comments by Sonny

Another possible "SHAREMAX" con scheme?

Or just some ANC diversion away from real corruption in SA?

Did anyone ever investigate Motshekga's assets?


Sishen Part 3: Prosecutor takes flak

Allegations by Imperial Crown Trading of "an unnaturally close relationship" between top prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach and an advocate representing rival company Kumba culminated in last week's announcement by the National Prosecuting Authority that Breytenbach has been suspended.

Breytenbach's position has since been clouded by confusion, with a second announcement by the NPA that it had issued the advocate with a letter of intention to suspend her, although she could make a case challenging it.

The move has raised fears that she has suffered collateral damage in a fight by Imperial, and specifically by its politically connected directors and shareholders, to avoid criminal prosecution.

Sishen Part 1: The lawyer people trusted

Sishen Part 2: Mystery death of a lonely official

Imperial is locked in a legal battle with the Hawks over the legality of co-ordinated search and seizure raids on it and the department of mineral resources in July last year.

Hawks investigating officer Sandra van Wyk obtained the warrant for the raids on the grounds that Imperial was alleged to have colluded with department officials to commit fraud, forgery, uttering and corruption in respect of their and Kumba's applications for rights to the Sishen iron ore mine.

In November last year Imperial lodged an affidavit in the Northern Cape High Court accusing Breytenbach of bias. It cited an incident during a court hearing when Breytenbach and Michael Hellens SC, an advocate maintaining a watching brief for Kumba, sat together. Imperial claims the pair "were obviously there on joint business" and "were continuously seen huddled together in discussions".

'Exerting improper influence'
"Hellens was possibly exerting improper influence on behalf of his clients, Sishen and Kumba, over Breytenbach, her staff and the police investigators," it said.

Imperial also complained about an allegedly improper approach by Hellens to advocate Nazir Cassim to try to persuade one of its directors, Archie Luhlabo, to turn state witness.

Imperial said Hellens had no right to float such an offer, which was the prerogative of the NPA, and that his conduct further demonstrated his improper relationship with Breytenbach.

Hellens and Breytenbach declined to comment.

The NPA also declined to comment, but released a statement this week, saying "an internal disciplinary process is a matter between the employer and the employee, and the details pertaining to that disciplinary matter are to be treated with confidentiality".

In a reply to questions, Kumba said the interaction between prosecutor and counsel "is common practice".

Hellens: 'Well-known and reputable'
"Hellens is a well-known and reputable senior counsel that specialises in criminal matters. Due to that specialisation, Kumba would assume that Hellens and Breytenbach have often been required to interact on a professional basis, either as opposing parties on matters, or on the same side," the company said.

Regarding Cassim, Kumba said the company's understanding was that there was an informal discussion between him and Hellens "as colleagues".

"Advocate Hellens spoke to advocate Cassim on the understanding that advocate Cassim was representing Mr Luhlabo on the basis of information which suggested that Mr Luhlabo might be considering turning state witnesses. Advocate Hellens could not offer any S204, as such an offer would only be made by the state."

More broadly, Imperial's complaint of bias by both Breytenbach and Van Wyk stems from the fact that, although both the company and Kumba have laid charges of fraud against each another in connection with the disputed 21.4% stake in Sishen, the Hawks have raided only Imperial.

The M&G understands that Imperial also presented its complaint in person to former director of public prosecutions Menzi Simelane.

This was reportedly done in the presence of Breytenbach’s direct boss, Lawrence Mrwebi, who was recently appointed head of the NPA's serious commercial crimes unit.

Temporary compromise
Soon afterwards, Breytenbach was threatened with suspension, but a compromise was reached -- she stepped down as the prosecutor of the Imperial case while retaining her position as head of the Gauteng's serious commercial crimes unit.

In December the NPA provisionally dropped fraud charges against suspended crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli. Although Breytenbach was the prosecutor in this case, Mdluli approached Mrwebi directly to have the charges dropped.

Breytenbach is understood to have resisted this and tried to have them reinstated.

The announcement of Breytenbach's suspension last week coincided with the announcement that the remaining charge of murder against Mdluli had also been provisionally dropped. It led to speculation that Breytenbach has been suspended for refusing to back down in this matter.

However, it is understood that Breytenbach was not assigned as prosecutor in the Mdluli murder case and the NPA, in its correspondence with Breytenbach over her suspension, referred only to her alleged conduct in the Imperial matter.

Breytenbach has apparently challenged her bosses to provide reasons for suspending her. They have responded by asking her to give reasons why she should not be suspended.

'That's all we wanted'
Imperial's attorney, Ronnie Mendelow, said: "Breytenbach was removed from the investigation against our client and replaced by another state advocate, who will act without fear, favour or prejudice. That is all our clients required from the national director of public prosecutions."

An advocate who has represented clients Breytenbach has prosecuted said: "She's odd. Before court she’ll call you 'babe' and be friendly. Then she'll drill the living shit out of you in court. Then afterwards she'll be friendly again.

"Basically, she's a rock solid prosecutor that lawyers fear on the one hand and love on the other."

* Got a tip-off for us about this story? Email
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The Truth has now been reavealed in 2012

Special Investigations
Author: Julius Cobbett
|26 August 2008 14:27 Sharemax: bully or victim?
Article tools
Now controversial property syndication group accuses ITInews of being in cahoots with Deon Basson.

Defending the interests of property syndication giant Sharemax is almost a full-time job for Coenie Willemse of Botha Willemse and Wilkinson Attorneys.

In Willemse's eyes, Sharemax is the victim of an unlawful smear campaign relentlessly waged by former financial journalist Deon Basson.

This alleged campaign has, in Willemse's opinion, received support from diverse parties including financial advisers, journalists, liquidators, forensic accountants and even rival property investment companies.

These parties have kept Willemse extremely busy defending the interests of his client. The number of threatening letters and court documents seems to grow each week. The latest is addressed to ITInews editor Brent Wilson, who had the temerity to refer his readers to Basson's website where they may find unflattering reports on Sharemax.

In his latest salvo, Willemse accuses Wilson of being a mouthpiece of Basson. Willemse warns Wilson not to be surprised if he finds himself a co-defendant in Sharemax's ongoing legal battle against Basson.

"Is our assumption correct that you are for all practical purposes in partnership with Mr Basson in this matter, and in regard to the book? Why else would you invite your readers not only to read the offending chapters, but to purchase the remaining chapters via links created on your website?," Willemse asks Wilson.

Willemse accuses Wilson of harbouring a one-sided perception that the relevant chapters of Basson's book were "tame stuff".

"Just consider for a moment that Mr Basson is wrong (and the Court must all decide on the issue), can you really in honesty proclaim that Basson's portrayal of our client, in the rogue's gallery of corporate failures, is ‘tame'?," asks Willemse.

"Our concern is not so much that you don't seem to realise to what extent you have been drawn in to an obsession on the part of Mr Basson, but rather that you continue to ignore our warnings."

Wilson responds: "Perhaps Sharemax will also sue Moneyweb for publishing the transcript of the interview with Deon Basson on SAfm." Click here to read the transcript (Sharemax was invited to participate in the radio discussion but declined).

"Will they sue Martin Welz when Noseweek publishes its article on Sharemax in its next issue coming out later this week?"

Willemse has previously accused the following people of making untruthful and defamatory statements:

•Forensic accountant Andre Prakke and financial adviser Andre Matthews, both of whom authored separate reports on Sharemax.

•Sharemax rival Bluezone Property Investments. Bluezone accused Sharemax of sabotaging one of its investment schemes. Willemse denied this allegation.

•Independent contract facilitator Adriaan Schutte who made allegedly untrue comments about Sharemax during a conference.


Right of Reply
Author: Dawie Roodt|07 March 2012 12:15 The truth behind my Sharemax divorce - Dawie Roodt

Relations with directors and lawyer Connie Myburgh became " progressively intolerable".
Dear Mr Cobbett

I refer to your article of March 1st on Moneyweb; “Was Dawie Roodt fired from Sharemax?

It is indeed unfortunate that I am in effect forced to react to allegations made against me in this way. I would also appreciate it if you could carry this reply on your website. Based on your article Mr Myburgh and Ms Haese either said or implied that I was dismissed from the boards of companies related to Sharemax. This is incorrect, the correct facts and version of events are provided below. Please note that I have documentary proof of all the facts that I list hereunder.

As you know I was appointed as an independent director to the Sharemax syndicated and other related companies during 2010 primarily to assist in the restructuring of the Sharemax group of companies. Over the months I became uncomfortable with the manner in which certain issues within the group of companies were handled and early July last year I wrote an email to Judge Hartzenberg, the Chairman, wherein I listed some of my concerns. The very next day, before a scheduled board meeting, the other directors asked to see me.

At this meeting I was presented with two documents. On the one document I tendered my resignation and on the other I was “dismissed”. The “dismissal” document was signed by Dominique Haese, Dirk Koekemoer (both executive directors) and Rudi Badenhorst (a non-executive independent director). Judge Hartzenberg did not sign this document. I was given a choice to sign either of these two documents, which I refused to do. I then left the meeting and told the other directors that I will revert back to them once I have decided what to do.

It is important to note that Mr Koekemoer and Ms Haese did not have the power to dismiss me since they were not directors of the holding company, which had the right to appoint directors. Furthermore, the letter of my “dismissal” was signed by only one director which was entitled thereto, Mr Badenhorst, while the other director, Judge Hartzenberg, did not sign the document. And lastly, no due process in terms of the law was followed before I was “dismissed”; informing me of complaints against me, providing me with an opportunity to react thereto etc.

After this episode I decided to tender my resignation which I did a few days later. Clearly the allegations by Mr Myburgh and allegedly by Ms Haese are incorrect.

I can, however, confirm that I was asked about my resignation by a caller during a radio interview with Magnus Heystek, as you indicated in your article. Just as we were leaving the studio Mr Myburgh called me and threatened to tell Magnus that I was “fired”. I then told Mr Myburgh to tell Mr Heystek himself since he was standing next to me and I then handed my phone to Mr Heystek.

I have not been fired from the Sharemax related companies as alleged. I resigned after relations between me and some of the board members and the lawyer, Mr Myburgh, became progressively intolerable.

Best regards

Dawie Roodt
Chief Economist/Director

Response by the Sharemax board.

Dear Mr. Cobbett,

We note that Mr. Roodt insisted that his communication of 6 March 2012 be published, presumably by yourselves. This position taken by Mr Roodt is noted.

The board reiterates its stance that it keeps information that is confidential, for whatever reason, exactly as such, namely confidential, including Mr Roodt’s relationship with the historical Sharemax Group.

We will not be communicating with Mr Roodt through the media, save to likewise request that this response is published, verbatim, in context and without any alterations, be it as to content and composition.

Contrary to your apparent view, we do not believe that this matter has any relevance whatsoever, and we will not entertain any further communication in this regard.

The board reserves all its rights.


Dominique Haese

Managing & Financial Director

Frontier Asset Management (Pty) Ltd