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Speculation was rife last night that economic development MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu and Speaker Peggy Nkonyeni have been informed that all charges against them in the R144-million racketeering, corruption and fraud “amigos trial” had been withdrawn.
The Mercury understands that the acting head of public prosecutions in the province, advocate Moipone Noko, notified their lawyers in writing yesterday that charges would be withdrawn in October when the matter was formally before the court.
The official line is that she has “perused and evaluated the case” and that there is insufficient evidence against the two high-ranking provincial ANC officials.
Noko was appointed less than a month ago under a cloud of controversy and amid speculation in the media that the previous incumbent, advocate Simphiwe Mdlotshwe had been ousted because he had refused to withdraw the charges as instructed by advocate Lawrence Mwrebi, head of the NPA’s specialised commercial crimes unit.
Mwrebi has previously denied any interference in the matter.
Contacted last night, Noko also refused to comment.
“I am busy. I can’t talk now,” she said, referring The Mercury to media spokeswoman Natasha Ramkissoon.
Asked if she had received a letter regarding the intended withdrawal of charges, Nkonyeni’s lawyer Nonduduzo Kheswa declined to comment.
“I can’t disclose this to you until I have talked to my client. So no comment. I have not been able to get hold of her. I will |not communicate with her through the media,” she said.
Nkonyeni’s spokesman Wonder Hlongwa also declined to comment.
Mabuyakhulu’s attorney Martin Potgieter said he had been out of the office all day and did not know if he had received any communication from Noko.
Mabuyakhulu’s spokesman Bheko Madlala said he was not aware of any correspondence from Noko.
The Mercury has confirmed that Noko has written to the legal representatives of two Durban lawyers Nozibele Phindela and Ian Blose, informing them that charges are to be withdrawn against them.
The two lawyers were charged because they were directors of Durban law firm Kuboni Inc – previously owned by Sandile Kuboni, who is now an advocate and who is charged with helping to “cleanse” a million-rand kickback businessman Gaston Savoi allegedly gave former KZN treasury head Sipho Shabalala in return for government contracts.
A legal source, who did not wish to be named, said the lawyers were “bit players” and the withdrawal against them was correct.
“However if charges are withdrawn against Mabuyakhulu and Nkonyeni, it leaves big holes in the State’s case.”
When the matter is in court again in October, Uruguayan businessman Savoi, who is alleged to have paid sweeteners to secure contracts to provide water purification and oxygen plants to the provincial government, is expected to launch |a pre-trial application challenging the constitutionality of |the country’s racketeering laws.