State’s case against me weak - official

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The Star broke the news about the R40 million fraud and graft allegedly involving Joburg property mogul Sayed Hoosen Mia.

Johannesburg - A sacked national Department of Public Works official who is facing fraud and corruption charges involving R40 million, along with Joburg property mogul Sayed Hoosen Mia, wants all charges against him dropped.

Desmond Simamane, 45, told the Johannesburg Regional Court on Friday that the State’s case against him was weak, particularly the claim that he received bribes, including luxury vehicles, from Mia.

Simamane and Mia are accused of allegedly swindling the Department of Public Works into paying more than R40m for six Joburg buildings it never occupied.

Mia made a failed attempt in January to have all charges against him dropped, and, instead, the State added more charges against him and Simamane.

On Friday, Simamane made a fresh bid to have the charges against him squashed.

The State alleges that the corrupt relationship between Mia and Simamane began in 2006 and had been continuing for five years before the Hawks, with the assistance of the Special Investigating Unit, ended it.

According to court documents, Mia made several payments into the personal accounts of Simamane and also gave him two cars, but Simamane denied these claims on Friday.

Simamane, through his counsel Max Hodes SC, told the regional court that he now wanted to make a formal representation to the National Prosecuting Authority to have all charges dropped.

Hodes said Simamane was going to provide the NPA with papers in which he would give a detailed account of the weakness of the case against him.

“The State has failed to provide us with evidence that accused two (Mia) paid a single cent to Simamane. The only thing the State is telling us is that the fraud case involves millions of rand, but they failed to produce the documents to support their claim,” Hodes said.

He also said forensic investigations conducted by the Department of Public Works failed to link Simamane to any of the criminal charges laid against him.

Hodes claimed that the only evidence in the State’s possession was a letter written by a whistle-blower to the then minister of public works, Geoff Doidge, in July 2010.

In that letter, seen by The Star, the whistle-blower asked Doidge to conduct an urgent investigation as Simamane and another sacked official, Thabo Moagi, were living high lives while earning just under R100 000 annually.

The whistle-blower claims that Simamane and Moagi were bankrolled by Mia.

In the letter, the whistle-blower further wrote: “These two officials (Simamane and Moagi) have over time been very well rewarded for their common efforts as it is commonly known and quite clear to see that they live quite well by any standards, driving brand new BMWs and Mercedes-Benzes, wearing flashy clothes, ownership of National First Division teams (a team owned by Desmond Simamane) and other businesses… way beyond the means of the average admin officer.

“Stories abound of weekly half day Fridays and cash collections (bundles and stacks of cash) in Rosebank at the offices of SHM Group (Mia’s Group of companies),” the whistle-blower said. He further claimed that Simamane and Moagi visited Mia’s offices to deliver business proposals.

The whistle-blower also appealed to Doidge to investigate all accommodation contracts given to the SAPS, Home Affairs and the Labour Department.

“This is a serious problem for Minister Doidge as the sums being contemplated herein are quite vast, running into millions, if not hundreds of millions, of rand. It robs the fiscus and the state by depriving it of the benefit of competitive and free market pricing through open trade or tender. This makes a mockery of BEE.”

 

The case was postponed to June 17 for the court to determine Simamane’s application.

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The Star


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