Former state security minister and ANC MP Bongani Bongo will kick off in 2021 with two court appearances in the space of just two months.
Bongo’s trial will start in the Western Cape High Court in February, where he is expected to answer to bribery and corruption charges after allegations that he tried to bribe a parliamentary official.
In another matter related to dodgy land deals, Bongo is expected to appear in a Mpumalanga court in March on charges of corruption and fraud.
On Friday, the corruption-accused chairperson of parliament’s Home Affairs Committee made a brief appearance during a virtual pre-trail hearing in the Western Cape High Court. It’s alleged that Bongo tried bribing a senior parliamentary official, advocate Ntuthuzelo Vanara, in an attempt to disrupt an inquiry into Eskom.
Vanara was the inquiry’s leader at the time.
National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson in the Western Cape, Eric Ntabazalila, in a brief note, said “Mr Bongani Bongo appeared at the High Court of South Africa: Western Cape Division for a pre-trial conference. His case has been postponed for plea and trial to 15 February to 26 February 2021. His bail is extended. The pre-trial was done virtually and the accused was present.”
Bongo’s matter is linked to former president Jacob Zuma’s announcement in 2017 of an inquiry into the power utility following several allegations of corruption. He is accused of trying to disrupt a parliamentary inquiry into state capture at Eskom on 10 October 2017.
According to an affidavit by Vanara, who was the inquiry’s evidence leader at the time, Bongo asked him to fake an illness and take sick leave because the inquiry could not proceed in his absence.
Bongo also allegedly offered Vanara, who was also the former acting registrar of members’ interests in parliament, a cash bribe.
All Vanara had to do was “name the price” and explain to Bongo how he would help to stop the inquiry.
Bongo would, in turn, go back to the “Eskom people” and explain Vanara’s plan to stop the inquiry and the price they would have to pay for his (Vanara’s) assistance.
Money would then be given to Bongo who would hand it over to Vanara. This is not the only court matter Bongo is involved in.
In October, the Hawks issued a warrant of arrest for Bongo several hours after chairing a parliamentary meeting.
Along with 10 co-accused, Bongo appeared in the Mbombela Magistrate’s Court on charges of fraud and corruption, linked to a case that dates back to the time when Bongo was an official in the Mpumalanga government.
Among the accused is Bongo’s brother Sipho Joel Bongo.
The Hawks are investigating the matter after it was alleged that, during February 2012, a complaint was made about the Msukaligwa Municipality that allegedly bought a Rietspruit farm in Ermelo worth R11 million, yet sold for about R36.4 million in 2011, to develop a township while the municipality owned a farm that could have been utilised for the same purpose.
Another whistleblower, the Hawks said in October, had alerted investigators to two other deals involving two farms, a 70-hectare Malelane farm worth R44 million that was allegedly sold to the municipality at R50 million in 2011, and a 74.2 hectare farm at Naauwpoort in Emalahleni worth R16 million, apparently sold for R37.5 million.
The combined value of those three farms was actually around R70 million, but through “alleged collusion by the suspects”, the Mpumalanga human settlements department suffered a loss of just under R124 million.
Bongo and his brother were released on R10 000 bail. The matter will be heard on 4 March 2021.