‘You kept eyes shut to anything that didn’t speak to your goal’, Nulane investigator told

21 February 2023 - 12:06
By Isaac Mahlangu AND Isaac Mahlangu
The accused in the Nulane Investments R24.9m fraud and money-laundering case are, from left to right, Peter Thabethe, Limakatso Moorosi, Seipati Dhlamini, Iqbal Sharma, Ronica Ragavan and Dinesh Patel.
Image: file/ Ziphozonke Lushaba The accused in the Nulane Investments R24.9m fraud and money-laundering case are, from left to right, Peter Thabethe, Limakatso Moorosi, Seipati Dhlamini, Iqbal Sharma, Ronica Ragavan and Dinesh Patel.

Defence lawyers in the Nulane trial have continued to accuse the lead investigator in the case of failing to undertake investigations because they were allegedly not aligned with an already set goal.

During his third day on the stand, lead investigator Mandla Mtolo was also accused of not following processes when he handled exhibit documents seized from the Free State department of agriculture and rural development.

The trial, set to run until next Friday, is based on an alleged corrupt tender in which money was paid to Nulane Investments to conduct a feasibility study for the Free State’s Mohoma Mobung project. The six accused are:

  • Gupta associate Iqbal Sharma; 
  • Peter Thabethe, former head of the Free State department of rural development;
  • Limakatso Moorosi, former head of the Free State department of agriculture;
  • Seipati Dhlamini, former provincial agriculture CFO;
  • Dinesh Patel, Sharma’s brother-in-law and a representative of Nulane; and
  • Ronica Ragavan, Islandsite director.

Kenny Oldwage, representing Patel, told Mtolo the exhibits were handled by “every Tom, Dick and Harry”.

He also asked Mtolo why he didn’t file exhibits presented in the case in the evidence room available at all high courts in the country, including the Free State High Court where the trial is taking place.

“Maybe you fiddled with them,” said Oldwage.

Mtolo admitted he was the one who filed the exhibits at Glen police station in Bloemfontein in March 2020, not his colleague Capt Isaac Bunu, who has since retired.

Mtolo had, when his evidence was led by prosecutor Peter Serunye, told the court it was Bunu who had done so. On Tuesday he told the court he made an error.

Mike Hellens, representing Gupta employee Ragavan and Gupta company Islandsite, told Mtolo had he investigated the origins of letter from an Indian company that led to the R24.9m tender, the court would be in a better position knowing if the letter was legitimate.

“You kept your eyes and the prosecution’s eyes shut to anything that didn’t speak to your goal,” claimed Hellens.

The trial continues.

TimesLIVE

Support independent journalism by subscribing to the Sunday Times. Just R20 for the first month.