Pretrial conference of former state security minister Bongo postponed
Legal representation issues add to delay in case
The pretrial hearing of former state security minister Bongani Bongo has been postponed because one of his co-accused changed lawyers and the legal representative of another accused didn't show up in court.
Bongo appeared in the Mbombela magistrate's court on Monday along with his brother Sipho, his ex-wife Sandile Nkosi, Robert Burwise, Patrick Donald Chirwa, Blessing Mduduzi Singwane, David Boy Dube, Vusi Willem Magagula, Bongani Louis Henry Sibiya, Elmon Lawrence Mdaka and Sibongile Mercy Mdaka.
State prosecutor Henry Nxumalo asked for the postponement on the basis that Chirwa didn't come with his lawyer and another accused had changed lawyers.
“We are asking for postponement to March 31 to be able to proceed with the pretrial. This will also give the accused space to sort out their legal representation issues,” said Nxumalo.
Magistrate Deon van Rooyen agreed.
The accused were arrested by the Hawks in October 2020 on 69 charges of money laundering, theft, corruption, fraud and contravention of the Public Finance Management Act.
They are charged alongside four companies: The Little River Trading 156, Broad Market Trading 204, Bongiveli and Pfuka Afrika.
They are out on R10,000 bail each.
The charges emanate from allegedly illegal land deals, including the purchase of the farm Naauwpoort in Emalahleni, Mpumalanga, for R37.5m by the provincial department of human settlements on behalf of the municipality.
According to the Hawks, the accused would inflate prices and convince the provincial government to buy the land.
Outside court, Bongo told Sowetan that the delay is costing them financially.
“I'm quite disappointed that they had to postpone to March. Remember, the case was postponed in March last year for six months and six months later they say it's [another] postponement.
“There are huge financial implications but we need to be patient because we need to prove our innocence, and like I proved my innocence in Cape Town, I'm also going to prove my innocence here,” said Bongo.