KZN Economic Development MEC, Mike Mabuyakhulu

A top civil servant paid R100 000 bail, in cash, for KwaZulu-Natal Economic Development and Tourism MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu, the Sunday Tribune can reveal.

S’manga Sethene, head of Mabuyakhulu’s office, deposited the money at the Maritzburg court after his boss was granted bail on August 1 last year. He had appeared in court with KZN legislature speaker Peggy Nkonyeni and was charged with racketeering in a case that also involves a host of civil servants and is related to a R1 million “donation” paid to the ANC by businessman Gaston Savoi after his company got a lucrative state contract.

Documents in our possession show R100 000 was paid in cash and bail receipt No 498913, with the MEC’s name on it, was issued to Sethene. Neither Mabuyakhulu nor Sethene would say if the R100 000 was taxpayers’ money, nor would they reveal its source.

It has also emerged Alex McRoberts – director of World Freight Services (SA) who allegedly colluded with Dube TradePort CEO Rohan Persad in a series of suspected corrupt activities before the two fell out – could have provided the funds for the bail.

Sources have told the Sunday Tribune McRoberts was asked to transfer R100 000 into the account of an organisation to pay the MEC’s bail. The office of the MEC has rejected that funds were transferred to pay his bail, calling them “preposterous and a fabrication to try and besmirch the MEC’s name.” Mabuyakhulu’s communications manager, Harry Mchunu, added that the MEC also had a receipt which he said, was “proof enough that he paid bail from his own funds”.

Pressed on who had actually paid the bail, Mchunu said it was an “acquaintance” – but refused to provide the name.

Mchunu added: “We have responded to you out of professional courtesy and to try and show that we have got nothing to hide. Therefore, we are not obliged to send you any further information”.

The Sunday Tribune has also established that Mabuyakhulu and suspended Dube TradePort CEO Persad were partners in an investment company set up in 2003, the same year Persad was ap-pointed Dube TradePort CEO. Mabuyakhulu was Public Works MEC.

This relationship was acknowledged by Mchunu, after the Sunday Tribune put questions to him about joint business dealings.

“The MEC has never been involved in any private business dealings with Mr Persad. During 2003 the MEC formed a company with five other shareholders, one of whom was Persad. The company was formed for investment purposes, but has never traded. As far as the MEC is aware this company has been deregistered,” said Mchunu, who refused to provide any further information.

The Sunday Tribune established the names of four former directors of the company. They include former CEO of the KZN Economic Council, Mel Clarke, who is executive director of project management company Black Balance, and Gareth Coleman, former CEO of Tourism KZN.

The web of allegations surrounding Persad has intensified since the Sunday Tribune exposé two weeks ago which detailed a trail of questionable dealings between Persad and McRoberts before their dispute which saw Persad cancelling a R50m-a-year ground-handling contract at King Shaka International airport that was awarded to WFS (SA).

In the wake of the exposé, the Dube TradePort Board suspended Persad last week, giving him, McRoberts and WFS Global, the parent company of WFS (SA), seven days to respond to the allegations. Despite several requests, Persad failed to respond to claims against him, except to call them “unfounded”.

The Dube TradePort board has also not confirmed if the parties implicated responded to the allegations, or if it had appointed an independent audit firm to investigate the allegations involving Persad, McRoberts and WFS (SA).

However, Paris-based WFS Global, in its latest response, said it had withdrawn the use of its name to WFS (SA) and WFS (Africa) – the two subsidiaries set up by McRoberts. – Additional reporting by Agiza Hlongwane.

Sunday Tribune