Pinnacle director’s R5m bribery case delayed until July

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Reuters

The bribery case against a director of mid-cap technology firm Pinnacle Holdings was postponed yesterday until July.

Takalani Tshivhase appeared yesterday in the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crime Court on charges that he offered a R5 million bribe to a lieutenant-general in the SAPS to secure a multimillion-rand contract for police equipment.

Tshivhase, who has denied the charges, was arrested by the police’s anti-corruption unit last month and released on bail the same day.

The case had then been postponed to allow his defence time for further investigation.

Yesterday magistrate Nina Setshogoe granted the defence’s request to extend the postponement until July 2 to allow Tshivhase’s lawyers more time to prepare, adding there would be no more extensions.

Tshivhase and his lawyer, Michael North, declined to comment.

The Pinnacle case has highlighted concerns about the use of corrupt practices to win government contracts, and raised questions about the company’s governance.

The charges against Tshivhase – together with filings that show Pinnacle’s chief executive and other executives sold stakes in the company before announcing the allegations – wiped out as much as R1.4 billion of shareholder value.

The JSE said last month it was investigating whether the hardware distributor violated rules on timely disclosure by waiting 20 days after Tshivhase’s arrest to make an announcement. The JSE has declined to comment on whether it was investigating the timing of the share sales.

Pinnacle has said the executives had requested permission for their share sales before Tshivhase’s arrest.

Pinnacle chief executive Arnold Fourie said last month that the charges against Tshivhase were a “huge misunderstanding”. Pinnacle has said it had no reason to doubt the veracity of Tshivhase’s denial.

Tshivhase has been granted a leave of absence from Pinnacle and stepped down from the board of Datacentrix.

Pinnacle lost 43 percent of its market value in the two days after the charges were announced but has since recouped some losses. The shares declined 2.43 percent to close at R14.03 yesterday, down 30 percent from the closing price on the day before the allegations were announced.

Pinnacle is not the first JSE-listed company to come under scrutiny over awards of government contracts.

US technology firm Net 1 UEPS Technologies has said it was being investigated by the US Department of Justice and the FBI over whether it made corrupt payments to officials to win a contract with the SA Social Security Agency to distribute social grants.


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