Limpopo lockdown as Malema goes to court
Polokwane is to be locked down as hundreds of supporters of former ANC Youth League president Julius Malema are expected to descend on the city for his court appearance today.
Malema is to be charged with fraud, corruption and moneylaundering relating to proceeds his Ratanang Family Trust allegedly received from the Limpopo government.
The charges will be laid against him and his co-accused, whose name is known to The Times, before they appear in court.
The Times has established also that Malema is to settle his debt with the taxman this week.
According to the SA Revenue Service, Malema owes R16-million in taxes.
Sources close to the SARS and the police investigation yesterday revealed Malema's debt had been earmarked for settlement by the end of the week.
The fraud, corruption and money-laundering charges stem from the allegedly irregular award of Limpopo construction tenders to companies Malema and his family trust are connected to.
The investigation, which is being spearheaded by a specialised anti-corruption task team, has been looking into fraud and corruption totalling about R100-million.
The team, according to Hawks spokesman McIntosh Polela, consists of detectives from the Hawks, the Special Investigating Unit, SARS, the Treasury and the National Prosecuting Authority.
The investigation had so far revealed the alleged theft of nearly R100-million, Polela said.
"This theft allegedly took place through the irregular awarding of tenders," he said.
SARS last night declined to comment on the allegations that Malema was due to settle his outstanding tax bill.
SARS is not allowed by law to discuss the affairs of any taxpayer.
The Asset Forfeiture Unit has been gearing up to seize Malema's assets, which he allegedly bought with money paid to him through the allegedly irregular awarded tenders, in lieu of taxes.
The unit's head, Willie Hofmeyr, declined to comment yesterday, saying only: "We do not speak at all before we act in any case."
Yesterday, Malema's business associates Kagisho Dichabe, Lesiba Gwangwa, Makgetsi Manthatha and Helen Moreroa were granted R40000 bail each when they appeared in court.
Court papers filed by the state show direct business links between Gwangwa and Malema, who with Gwangwa and Dichabe are directors of On Point Engineering, in which Malema, through his family trust, is an indirect shareholder.
"From company documentation submitted as part of the [tender] bid, it is clear that there is a clear business relationship between Julius Sello Malema and Gwangwa as well as their companies/entities," the court papers say.
"Gwangwa and Dichabe were responsible for preparing documents submitted for the purposes of the bid or recruiting people to join On Point in various capacities.
"According to the said company structure, Ratanang Trust and Gwangwa Family Trust each owned 50% of Guilder Investments."
Gwama Properties was 100% owned by Guilder Investment, indicating that the Ratanang Trust had an indirect shareholding in Gwama Properties.
SGL Engineering Project is 70% owned by Malema and 30% owned by Gwangwa.
Segwalo Engineering is 100% owned by Gwangwa, the court papers revealed.
In a separate investigation of Malema and On Point Engineering, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found no evidence that linked the former youth league leaders to tender interference.
But she found he had benefited "improperly" from the deal.
When Malema goes to court this morning he will be supported by the ANC's Limpopo executive.
The provincial ANC said yesterday its executive would be in court because the case had indirect implications for sections of the provincial government.
The party's provincial executive - whose members have stood behind Malema since the start of the trouble that led to his expulsion from the ANC - said the charges were not backed by a "genuine case to fight against corruption and fraud . but rather by a repressive political intent".
The ring of steel outside court will include nearly 1000 police officers from across Limpopo, with many others from outside the province being placed on stand-by.
The security cordon, which is to stretch for several blocks around the courthouse, will be manned by public order protection unit members, equestrian unit officers and members of the province's dog units.
Backing them up will be members of the national intervention unit and the air wing, which has deployed several helicopters to the city.
Police spokesman Colonel Ronel Otto said the police had put adequate measures in place to address any security issue.
"The force that we have is sizeable. We have hundreds of officers in place and are more than prepared, with police members from surrounding provinces also on stand-by should there be any trouble."