Cape Town - Two senior ANC members, Ma rius Fransman and Pierre Uys, could still face prosecution or even jail time if the Western Cape Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) acts on legal advice it obtained after the pair refused to take an oath and testify before it in April.
Scopa’s legal advisers, in a report dated April 25, effectively gave the committee the green light to take legal action in terms of the committee’s resolution that prosecution be explored against the pair.
Fransman and Uys were summoned to appear before the previous Scopa, to be questioned about the Auditor-General’s report on the use of consultants dating back to when both men were MECs in the Western Cape.
Members of Scopa, who changed after the May polls, resolved to take legal action after their walkout.
But Uys and Fransman wanted a postponement, asking the committee to pose its questions in writing to allow them to access the relevant files in order to better respond on matters dating back almost a decade.
In Fransman’s case, Scopa’s legal team said the offence committed carried a penalty of a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 12 months or both.
“The offences must be reported to the South African Police service by the speaker of the (Western Cape Provincial Parliament) or by the chairperson on behalf of the Committee with the Speaker’s concurrence,” the report read.
It proposed that a transcription of the proceedings and a sworn affidavit by the committee chairperson accompany the lodging of the complaint.
“The matter will then be investigated by the SAPS and proceeded with by the relevant Directorate of Public Prosecutions according to the mandates of those entities.”
Uys, as a member of the provincial parliament, could be found guilty of contempt of the parliament.
“The House must appoint a committee to deal with disciplinary enquiries of this nature. The findings and recommendations of this committee will then be tabled in the House.”
The House may “refer a matter concerning contempt by a member to the National Director for Public Prosecutions in addition to any penalty imposed by the House”, it read.
Regarding the third witness, Thami Manyathi, who did not arrive after being summoned in April, the legal advice states: “It is submitted that the time allowed to Mr Manyathi to avail himself for the meeting was not rational or reasonable. Rationally and reasonableness are underlying prerequisites for any juristic act.”
Any attempt to prosecute Manyathi for his non-attendance at the meeting was unlikely to succeed, it read.
Scopa’s chairman, Ferlon Christians of the African Christian Democratic Party, said the legal report and the minutes of the Scopa meeting on April 23 must be on the agenda for the next committee meeting on July 30.
“There were outstanding matters on the agenda of the previous Scopa, but we are a new Scopa. It was the request of the DA to put this item back on the agenda,” Christians said.
Scopa would not be used as means to launch personal vendettas.
The DA’s Mark Wiley, who remains an alternative member of Scopa, said: “We need to get answers on the misuse of funds.”