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Johannesburg - An anti-corruption activist has accused Limpopo Human Settlements MEC Clifford Motsepe and others of having set alight his R10 million mansion in a failed assassination attempt.
In a police statement seen by The Star, Risimati Wilson Mkhari claimed Motsepe and three prominent businessmen - Lesiba Gwangwa, Steve Bosch and Jacques Nell - burnt his Polokwane house on February 12 last year in an attempt to silence him.
At the height of exposés into Julius Malema’s business affairs and his Ratanang Family Trust, Mkhari was one of the people publicly accused by the former ANC Youth League leader’s supporters of feeding journalists with information.
According to Mkhari’s statement, his house mysteriously caught fire after Motsepe, Gwangwa and Bosch had repeatedly sent him threatening SMSes and even declared “war” against him. The four men were Malema’s one-time allies.
Mkhari claimed they had threatened him after he had challenged Motsepe’s October 2010 decision to cancel his R16m housing contract, blacklist him for alleged poor workmanship and subsequently gave the contract to Bosch.
The Star’s sister paper, The Sunday Independent, previously reported that Mkhari had sued Motsepe and Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale for R140m for defamation in connection with his blacklisting.
The summons was filed in the Pretoria High Court on February 2 last year, 10 days before Mkhari’s house caught fire.
Motsepe and Nell refused to comment, while Gwangwa dismissed Mkhari’s claims as “hogwash”.
He added that the businessman was a bitter attention-seeker who fabricated lies about people to push his own agenda.
Bosch has failed to return repeated calls and a text message since last week.
Mkhari’s claims are contained in a 17-page statement submitted to the Hawks, which are probing a case of arson and malicious damage to property.
This came after the fire gutted parts of Mkhari’s double-storey mansion in the upmarket suburb of Ster Park.
It had damaged the garage, a part of the kitchen and reduced three cars - a Chrysler Voyager 3.3 SE V6, a Chrysler 300 C 5.7 Hemi and a Colt 4x4 V6 double cab - to ashes.
“I have no doubt in my mind that the following individuals are prime suspects in the burning of my property and three motor vehicles, namely Mr Sithembiso Steven Bosch, Mr Clifford Motsepe, Mr Lesiba Gwangwa, Mr Jacques Nell and those with whom he shared the document I gave him,” said Mkhari’s statement.
It added that “these criminals had an intention to kill me and my entire family, which is totally unacceptable”.
Mkhari claimed that aftera meeting held to resolve the R16m contract dispute had ended acrimoniously in 2011, Motsepe had retorted: “We know that you are also involved in exposing corruption, we know the registration numbers of your vehicles and we know where you stay.”
He alleged that Bosch had said: “You have declared war and you have it”, before sending a barrage of “derogatory SMSes”.
Mkhari further claimed Gwangwa had accused him of convincing his engineer toco-operate with the Hawks in their probe into tender fraud and corruption against him and Malema.
Nell had tricked him into giving out “documentary proof” that Motsepe had benefited from companies linked to Malema, alleged Mkhari, on the pretext that he would get Mathale to intervene and resolve the tender dispute.
He claimed that after giving Nell the bank statements of Malema-linked company On-Point Engineering in January last year, he heard nothing from him “until my house was burnt”.
Nell referred all enquiries to his lawyer, a Mr De Klerk, before hanging up the phone.
Mkhari has accused the police of dragging their feet in probing the case.
But Limpopo police spokesman Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi denied this, saying they had thoroughly probed the matter and given Mkhari “extensive feedback” before referring the case to the Hawks at national level for further investigation.
National Hawks spokesman Captain Paul Ramaloko said: “The matter is receiving the attention it deserves, and investigations are ongoing.”