Money trail leads to arrest of Bongani Bongo’s ex-wife

08 March 2021 - 13:48
The ex-wife of former state security minister Bongani Bongo has been added as an accused in his money laundering and corruption case in the Mbombela magistrate's court.
The ex-wife of former state security minister Bongani Bongo has been added as an accused in his money laundering and corruption case in the Mbombela magistrate's court.
Image: Antonio Muchave

The ex-wife of former state security minister Bongani Bongo has been added as an accused in his corruption and money laundering case in the Mbombela magistrate’s court. 

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said on Monday Sandile Nkosi had handed herself over to the police and appeared briefly in court. She was granted bail of R10,000.

A transaction in her personal bank account led authorities to believe she may have been part of fraudulent activity in which her former husband and 10 others were implicated.

“It is alleged Nkosi received R1m from Singwane Attorneys after the Mpumalanga department of human settlements paid R52m to Singwane Attorneys without any basis for such payment. She never had any business dealings with Singwane Attorneys nor was she a client who gave Singwane Attorneys instructions to institute a civil action for claim of any money,” said NPA spokesperson Sipho Ngwema.

“Importantly, Singwane Attorneys were appointed by the [department] on recommendations by Bongo. Furthermore, payments by the [department] to Singwane Attorneys were recommended by Bongo.”

Nkosi will join Bongo and the 10 other accused when the case returns to court on May 4.

Ngwema said they collectively faced charges of corruption, fraud, theft, money laundering and contravention of the Public Finance Management Act.

The charges are in connection with the R37.5m sale and purchase of a farm in Naauwpoort, eMalahleni, by the Mpumalanga department of human settlements, ostensibly on behalf of the eMalahleni municipality.

Some of the accused, acting in concert and with common purpose, allegedly exploited the normal phenomenon of purchase of land by the government by misrepresenting facts to the department regarding ownership and the true sale price of the farm.

The NPA said the real owner of the farm, Petrus Johannes van Tonder, was paid only R15m for the farm from the R37.5m.

The money was paid into the trust account of Singwane Attorneys in their capacity as conveyancer appointed by the department.

Van Tonder paid R1.5m commission to Pam Golding as estate agents for the transaction.

Singwane, who was not instructed by the department, also allegedly paid R22.5m to a company known as Little River Trading, which, the state alleges, enabled the accused to steal the money.

At the time these alleged crimes were committed, Bongo still worked in the legal department of the Mpumalanga human settlements department.

The other accused in the case are Sipho Joel Bongo, who is the former minister’s brother, Robert Burwise, Patrick Donald Chirwa, Harrington Sizwakhendaba Dhlamini, Blessing Mduduzi Singwane, David Boy Dube, Vusi Willem Magagula, Bongani Louis Henry Sibiya, Elmon Lawrence Mdaka and Sibongile Mercy Mdaka.

The companies linked to them were also listed and charged: 

  • Little River Trading 156 (Pty) Ltd;
  • Broad Market Trading 204 (Pty) Ltd;
  • Bongiveli CC; and
  • Pfuka Afrika CC.

Last month the high court in the Western Cape cleared Bongo of bribery charges.

He had been accused of attempting to bribe Eskom inquiry evidence leader Ntuthuzelo Vanara.

Speaking outside court after that hearing, Bongo said a faction within the ANC was behind his prosecution because they believed he had access to files containing the names of “spies”.

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