AfriForum: Cele must investigate Mbalula with the same vigour used to persecute the public during lockdown

AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit today in a letter to Bheki Cele, Minister of Police, insisted that he investigate the civil rights organisation’s charge against Fikile Mbalula, Minister of Transport, with the same commitment with which the police has arrested 230 000 people for the so-called transgression of lockdown regulations.

This follows after AfriForum laid criminal charges of money laundering and corruption against Mbalula (former Minister of Sport) at the Brooklyn police station in August 2019. This was done because Sedgars Sport, a supplier of sport products, allegedly payed between R300 000 and R680 000 in 2017 for the Mbalula family’s trip to Dubai. AfriForum requested the Public Protector (PP) in 2017 to investigate the trip, who subsequently found that Mbalula had violated the Constitution and other legislation in this regard. She further ordered the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to launch an investigation into whether the funds used to pay for the trip had been proceeds from money laundering or not.

The Private Prosecution Unit also wrote to Lt Gen Godfrey Lebeya, Head of the Hawks, on 29 April 2020 urging him to give the necessary attention to AfriForum’s charge against Mbalula. In this letter Adv Gerrie Nel, Head of the Private Prosecution Unit, noted AfriForum’s concern that a pattern seems to have emerged where certain prominent political figures are being protected against criminal prosecution.

“It seems that the police are either unwilling or incapable of dealing with high level corruption cases. This case was opened long before the lockdown, but it appears that the police are far more eager to turn normal, law-abiding people into criminals by (sometimes violently) arresting them for minor violations of vague, constantly changing lockdown regulations,” says Monique Taute, Head of AfriForum’s Anti-corruption Unit.

In his letter to Cele, Adv Nel also states that he hopes the Minister’s preoccupation with receipts for cigarettes will spill over into the investigation of Mbalula – who claims he (Mbalula) paid for his family’s holiday to Dubai himself.

“It is extremely worrying that the NPA, according to all indications, has not complied with the instructions in the PP’s report at all. We have also, after 10 months, not received any significant feedback in this case. AfriForum will not stand back when government fails to prosecute the political elite – everyone is equal before the law and if the Minister of Police and NPA is unwilling to properly investigate Mbalula’s alleged crimes and to prosecute him, we will intervene,” Taute concludes.

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