Home South African “Why hasn’t Bheki Cele been charged over Fifa 2010 tender?”

“Why hasn’t Bheki Cele been charged over Fifa 2010 tender?”

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Accused businessman says Cele signed off “approval” on controversial World Cup contract awarded to his company

Minister of Police Bheki Cele. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi / African News Agency (ANA)

POLITICALLY connected businessman Thoshan Panday and his co-accused Colonel Navin Madhoe, who were rearrested this week over the Fifa 2010 accommodation tender scandal, wondered why Police Minister Bheki Cele was not among those arrested.

Both Panday and Madhoe appeared briefly at the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Friday and were granted R100 000 and R10 000 bail, respectively, in respect of the multiple fraud and corruption related charges they face.

Two more suspects linked to the matter were also due for arrest on Friday but police had yet to locate them.

In an interview on Saturday, Panday asked: “What about Minister Bheki Cele, why has he not been charged?”

Panday maintains that it was Cele, the then national commissioner of the SAPS, who signed off “approval” on the controversial contract awarded to his company, Goldcoast Trading CC, to provide accommodation and meals for police officers on World Cup duty.

Sindisiwe Twala, the Investigating Directorate (ID) spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority, said that while her department was operating at full tilt, “we cannot rule anyone out at this stage”.

About the assertion that Cele also be held accountable, his spokesperson Lirandzu Themba denied the minister had been involved in the signing off on the tender award, and said KZN SAPS’ Supply Chain Management (SCM) handled that.

While Madhoe was not one of the heads in KZN’s SCM, he worked as a line manager in the department and his duty related to the procurement of quotes.

The State alleges that through Madhoe’s influence and another SAPS member, processes were manipulated to favour Goldcoast’s bids, with the company acting as the middleman between the establishments providing the accommodation services and the SAPS.

The rates charged for such services have been the subject of contention as the State maintains they were “exorbitant” and no other bids were received.

Madhoe allegedly received R80 000 in bribes for his involvement.

Related to the World Cup dealings are allegations that miscellaneous items like jackets, torches and tents supplied by Goldcoast were overpriced.

Further fraud charges stem from Panday’s company providing “Operation Response Services”, which includes accommodation, when SAPS members, especially Public Order Policing teams, are called to emergency duty in various corners of KwaZulu-Natal.

It is estimated that accommodation and other services provided by Goldcoast were worth R47 million.

Other charges emanated from their alleged attempt to bribe Johan Booysens, the former KZN Hawks boss, with more than R1 million in cash.

The State claimed that in 2012, when payouts for the accommodation tender were frozen due to investigations, there were attempts to have money released.

Moipone Noko, KZN’s deputy director of public prosecutions, was steadfast in her decision not to prosecute Panday from 2014 and 2015.

However, in November 2017, Shaun Abrahams, the former National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) ruled that Panday’s matter should be prosecuted.

In 2018, Panday launched an application to review Abraham’s decision.

That matter was finalised last month by Judge Trevor Gorvan, who upheld Abrahams’ stance.

Panday said his legal team had filed notice of leave to appeal against Gorvan’s decision. Therefore, he couldn’t understand the rearrest.

“I believed that there would be a stay in proceedings as per undertakings made by the previous NDPP.”

Regardless, Panday is confident that he will be vindicated by the courts.

“This matter has been looming for the past 10 years, despite previous decisions not to prosecute me due to the irregular and questionable conduct by the SAPS.

“It includes the unlawful interception of my telephonic conversations,” said Panday.

Madhoe also spoke with confidence after the late afternoon court proceedings. He said: “No, I’m not stressed. I’m just hungry and tired.”

His attorney, Ravindra Maniklall, added that the matter was old and had been investigated for many years.

“We are confident. This has come 10 years too late. We will be pleading not guilty to the charges.”

Maniklall said they awaited finality in the matter so that Madhoe could be exonerated.

Earlier, State prosecutor advocate Talita Louw, who is based at the Investigating Directorate’s Pretoria office, told magistrate Vanitha Armu that they were not opposed to bail as the accused had been arrested before.

Twala confirmed that four warrants had been issued in the matter and they had looked for the other two accused.

“We have through their various representatives, legal and employers indicated that they need to present themselves at police stations to be formally charged. They will probably present themselves today or tomorrow to find favour with us and not be denied bail.”

Twala said their department was birthed near the middle of 2019 and because of their broad scope of work, which includes investigation, arrests, prosecution and also drawing information from the Zondo Commission, they had a mammoth workload.

They received extra capacity in July.

“So we cannot rule anyone out at this stage.”

“However, the current indictment relates to the four persons before court and several companies that were linked to this case. We cannot comment on the delays in terms of the case as we only came into existence last year.

“ID head, advocate Hermione Cronje, said give me resources and I’ll give you cases and I’ll get solid indictments like cases that are on the court roll, and then people will be prosecuted,” repeated Twala.

Booysen said he noted the countrywide effort to root out corruption. He singled out prosecutors advocate Moipone Noko, Sello Maema and others as people who shielded some and prosecuted others on spurious charges.

He asked that they be held to account.

“Their continued presence in the NPA will undermine these moves to bring corrupt officials to book.”

Booysens said he had registered criminal investigations into the conduct of Noko, Maema, Abrahams and Marshal Mokgatle, which had been taken up by the ID.

“I am confident that the cases against them are very strong. I testified regarding their role in enabling state capture.

“It was also my evidence that as long as they remain at the NPA the institution will remain captured.”

The matter was adjourned to November.