Linda Mti found Bosasa-sponsored hotels stay so much sweeter than his home
Former prisons boss Linda Mti will have to explain the 53 Bosasa-sponsored hotel stays in a city where he owns several properties.
Together with flights and car hire, allegedly also courtesy of Bosasa, this forms part of a range of criminal graft charges stemming from a long-dormant 2009 Special Investigating Unit (SIU) report on corruption in the department of correctional services.
The report is the basis for criminal charges on which Mti appeared in the Pretoria Commercial Crimes court this week. The charges detail how Mti was allegedly bribed by Bosasa.
His co-accused are senior correctional services department official Patrick Gillingham, former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi, former Bosasa CFO Andries van Tonder and the companies Bosasa (now trading as African Global Operations), Sondolo IT and Phezulu Fencing.
Mti is accused of channelling R1.6bn in contracts to Bosasa. He was allegedly given flights, hotel jaunts, car rentals and cash payments worth more than R1m as reward.
According to papers before court, Mti's home town of Port Elizabeth was a favourite destination.
The charge sheet indicates Mti stayed at many places other than his home, including the Paxton Hotel, the Beach Hotel, the Courtyard and the Radisson Blu - all top hotels in Port Elizabeth.
Between 2005 and 2014, 53 accommodation bookings worth R143,700 were made for him. All were less than half an hour's drive from his property in Colchester in Port Elizabeth. He bought another Port Elizabeth property in Greenbushes in 2014.
Whether it was the award-winning Filini restaurant at the Radisson, the sea vistas of the Paxton or the architecture of the Beach Hotel, Mti wouldn't say what drew him away from the comfort of his own home.
Some of the puzzling transactions recorded in the charge sheet are rooms booked at three establishments in Bloemfontein and Durban - all on December 31 2012.
On the same day three plane tickets, costing R12,500, were issued to him.
It also details how even Mti's traffic fine of R322, given in Port Elizabeth, was paid for him.
Approached by the Sunday Times soon after he was granted R20,000 bail this week, Mti claimed that he and his legal team had not seen the charge sheet.
He would not comment on the hotel bookings made for him in a city where he owned properties.
"[Making] the connection of hotel bookings and my houses sounds [like] an unnecessary reference . the least I know and can say is that if [I had] gone to PE for work I would not stay in my place," he said.
Paul Hoffman of Accountability Now, a public services watchdog, said that explaining the "purpose" of the hotel bookings would be key in Mti's defence.
"Unless he [Mti] can come up with what is called a reasonably, possibly true explanation of the purpose of his hotel stays that is innocent, he will take the fall," said Hoffman.
"Maybe he needed it for business meetings. We never know. There are many reasons why people check into hotels, some innocent and others not," he said.
Mti said he would focus on responding to the allegations from the dock.
"Any response on them will be provided to that institution, not to media houses. I have been the subject of media abuse and trial for the last 15 years," he said.
His relationship with Bosasa has been in the spotlight at the commission of inquiry into state capture.
The SIU report was put before the commission's chair, deputy chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
It said the department of correctional services' tender processes were subverted. Contracts at prisons for access control, fencing, catering and jail TV were awarded to Bosasa.
Revelations at the commission by Mti's co-accused Agrizzi have led to the formation of a new unit in the National Prosecuting Authority.
Agrizzi alleged that millions had been used to bribe cabinet ministers and other senior officials.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the formation of the new unit during his state of the nation address on Thursday. He said it would investigate and prosecute cases arising from various commissions of inquiry.
"In broad terms, the directorate will focus on the evidence that has emerged from the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture, other commissions and disciplinary inquiries," he said.