R191m 'blue lights' fraud and theft case postponed as court is asked to probe delays

27 September 2021 - 15:12
The multimillion-rand blue lights case has been postponed again after two of the accused asked the court to investigate delays in the completion of proceedings. Stock photo.
The multimillion-rand blue lights case has been postponed again after two of the accused asked the court to investigate delays in the completion of proceedings. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/radututa

Former acting national police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane and former deputy national police commissioner Bonang Mgwenya have launched applications to inquire about delays in their R191m fraud and theft “blue lights” case.

This emerged on Monday as prosecutor Tilas Chabalala told the Johannesburg commercial crimes court, sitting at the Palm Ridge magistrate's court, that the state was ready to set the matter down for trial.

Chabalala told the court that Phahlane and Mgwenya's legal representatives sought a postponement to file documents in relation to their application.

Phahlane and Mgwenya brought separate applications in terms of section 342A of the Criminal Procedure Act. It states that a court before which criminal proceedings are pending shall investigate any delay in the completion of proceedings which appears to the court to be unreasonable and which could cause substantial prejudice to the accused, the state or a witness.

Chabalala said the state will bring its own application for an order directing that the case be set down for trial.

Zweli Zakwe, advocate for Phahlane, told the court on Monday the matter was not ready for trial and denied his client sought a postponement.

Zakwe said the matter was not ready for trial because there is no proper disclosure of all the documents in the docket. He said some of the documents contained on a hard drive could not be opened. He said the disclosure of the docket was haphazard and unstructured.

Chabalala denied this and said legal representatives of the accused had, at a meeting in August, expressed satisfaction that all documents in the hard drive provided to all the accused, could be opened.

The court said there must be a proper exchange of papers and set the matter down to November 25 for hearing.

Phahlane and Mgwenya are among 11 people and a company expected to answer charges of fraud, theft and obstructing or defeating the course of justice.

The charges relate to a multimillion-rand tender which Vimpie Manthata's company, Instrumentation for Traffic Law Enforcement, was awarded to fit emergency lights to police vehicles.

The state alleges that during the procurement process, the police accused ignored a competitive bidding process and committed the SAPS to financial exposure of R191m in favour of Manthata' s company, in exchange for benefits received from Manthata.

Apart from Manthata, Phahlane and Mgwenya, the other accused are former Gauteng police commissioner Deliwe de Lange, former Gauteng deputy police commissioner Nombhuruza Lettie Napo, James Ramanjalum, Ramahlapi Johannes Mokwena, Thomas Marima, Maetapese Joseph Mulaiwa, Judy Rose, Samantha Andrews and Instrumentation for Traffic Law Enforcement. 

In November last year, Phahlane brought an application to remove the case from the roll. He alleged the state was not ready as it was still conducting investigations.

That application was dismissed in December last year and the matter was set down for trial this month.

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