R14m theft of cash from home of premier

28 March 2010 - 02:00 By Charles Molele and Mzilikazi wa Afrika

A security company responsible for guarding the premises of Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza has been axed following the alleged theft of R14-million in cash from the premier's farm.

Senior government officials told the Sunday Times that a relative of the premier, Mxolisi S'gudla, was last year taken to Barberton police station, and questioned about the theft.

A police source said the case was later "killed to avoid many questions being asked".

It is understood that soon after the theft, Mbovula Security Services, a security company employed to guard the farm, was "removed" from the premises and replaced by the South African Police Services (SAPS).

Mbovula Security boss Noah Dlamini told the Sunday Times that he received a phone call from provincial safety and security MEC Sibongile Manana to remove his guards from Mabuza's house after the alleged theft.

Dlamini added that he had asked Manana to list everything that was stolen, as his security company's insurance could replace them, but nothing has been forwarded to his office to date.

One of Mbovula's managers explained: "We did our own investigation about the theft and arrested one Mxolisi S'gudla as a suspect, even though we didn't know what he allegedly stole.

"According to our records he was the only person who visited the farm on the day in question. Mxolisi was known to our guards as a frequent visitor and one of the premier's relatives."

The alleged theft took place on December 21. Manana allegedly phoned Dlamini two days later to inform him about the theft and the decision to replace his security guards.

Another source said Dlamini was later informed that R14-million was stolen. He apparently requested that he be informed in writing, but officials refused to do so.

"Dlamini was also told not to report the case to the police."

At least two other sources from the provincial safety and security department confirmed that there is a report that such an amount was stolen although the matter has been kept top secret.

Manana's spokesman Joseph Mabuza said the department was aware that "security guards responsible for the safeguarding of the premier's residence were replaced by SAPS personnel because they were not performing according to the stipulations of the contract.

"They were found sleeping on duty. The department is not, however, aware of R14-million being stolen from the residence."

Former provincial ANC Youth League secretary James Nkambule recently claimed that Mabuza paid R400 000 towards President Jacob Zuma's wedding last year. These allegations were never denied by the presidency.

Mabuza bought his farm in Barberton from fellow ANC politician David Mkhwanazi in 1996. He paid R440000 and added a second-hand Mercedes-Benz with about 15000km on the clock as a bonus.

Mkhwanazi bought the farm for R750000 in 1992. It is not yet clear why he sold it to his fellow comrade at such a bargain price.

Mkhwanazi this week told the Sunday Times that he "was happy with the sales agreement".