Brian Hlongwa and co-accused warned of life sentence if convicted for racketeering and corruption
Share this article:
Johannesburg - Former Gauteng Health MEC Brian Hlongwa and his wife Joelene Hlongwa and five other accused made a brief appearance in the Johannesburg Regional Court applying for bail on multiple counts of corruption, money laundering and fraud.
The Hlongwas appeared with Dr Obakeng Stephen Mookeletsi, 45, who was the deputy-director-general during Hlongwa’s tenure; Sybil Ngcobo, 61, former Gauteng Health Department head; Valdis Ntsieni Ramaano, 47, former chief director supply chain management; Dr Abdul Rahman, 76, former special adviser to Hlongwa; Reatile Kingdom Lolwane, 64, director of Ukwakha Design (Pty) Ltd and Dr Niven Pillay, 54, director of Regiments Capital.
During their bail application, Hlongwa and his co-accused were warned they were being charged with organised crime under the Prevention of Organised Crime (POCA).
The DA’s Gauteng spokesperson n health Jack Bloom, who blew the whistle on the organised crime and corruption syndicate, said Hlongwa’s court appearance was long overdue.
“I suspect that the delay was due to political protection. I hope that there are no further delays and that finally justice is seen to be done with jail sentences for all those found guilty of corruption.
Hlongwa’s legacy has been a department that has never recovered from the looting and lack of controls while he was Health MEC. A strong signal needs to be sent that crooked people will not get away with stealing public money. said Bloom
“I feel vindicated as I have long campaigned for this case to come to court. I was even sanctioned by the Gauteng legislature because I accused him of corruption,” he said.
The State alleges that Brian Hlongwa and Richard Payne, who was not in court, were the main members of the racketeering enterprise. Hlongwa and Payne were friends prior to his appointment as Health MEC.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) listed Hlongwa, 3P Consulting boss Payne and various other companies as accused persons involved in a case of R1.2 billion corruption at Gauteng Health while Hlongwa was MEC. A multimillion tender for the construction of project management unit (PMU) was awarded to 3P consulting whose directors were Payne and Lolwane.
Each of the accused faces various counts of corruption, money laundering, fraud and organised crime.
The State alleges that Hlongwa, Payne and 3P consulting acted in concert and in common purpose with various other persons to defraud Gauteng Health.
“It is further alleged that Hlongwa, Payne and 3P consulting while managing or employed by or associated with the enterprise, conducted or participated in the conduct, directly or indirectly, of the said enterprise’s affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, thereby contravening Section 2 (1) (e) of Poca during the period 2006 to 2010,” the indictment stated.
Yesterday, the accused successfully applied for bail in the Regional Court. Brian Hlongwa was granted bail of R20 000 while his wife and Pillay each got bail of R50 000. Dr Rahman was released on bail of R25 000 while others got bail of R20 000.
State prosecutor Adv Raymond Mathenjwa said that the offences they were accused of, carries a maximum term of life in jail. The case was postponed until April 22, 2022. The extended postponement was also to allow the State to extradite Payne.
The State further alleges that Payne used his relationship with Hlongwa to gain control of substantial portion of Gauteng’s budget for 3 P's benefit, saying “the central pivot of this was the outsourcing of Gauteng’s procurement through the Project Management Unit free from the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) safeguards.”
In the indictment, the State also detailed how payments were made to Hlongwa which included:
* R1.5mpaid by Pillay to Brisgo Properties, a company 100%owned by Hlongwa and his wife, to pay towards the purchase of the Eccleston Crescent house.
* A further R2.6m paid by Payne and Pillay towards the Eccleston house. This was paid through the account of Hlongwa’s lawyer, a Mr Samuels.
* The purchase for R4.75m of Hlongwa’s previous house at College Drive in Bryanston by Kemsing Services a Cyprus-registered company owned by Smidek. It is alleged that “the timely sale of the College Drive property and the resultant access to the proceeds of the sale constituted a gratification as defined in the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act”.
* Free rental when he stayed at the College Drive house after it was sold, despite provision for occupational rental of R40 000 a month.
* Refurbishment of the College Drive house for a total amount of R216 540.37, allegedly paid for by Payne, Pillay and their entities.
* Payment of R1 563 674 from Kemsing on May 8, 2009 into Hlongwa’s personal account, purportedly for the purchase of furniture, but this was alleged to be “a cover-up for a cash gratification”.
* Payment for renovations to the Eccleston Crescent house totalling R1.4m from Pillay, Samuel and entities associated with Payne and Pillay.
* A trip to the Durban July Handicap for Hlongwa and his wife in 2008, including two nights at the Beverly Hills Hotel, paid for by Regiments.