Busisiwe Mkhwebane: NPA decision not to prosecute Fikile Mbalula over R680,000 Dubai family trip was ‘shocking’



Published May 24, 2024


Former Public Protector of South Africa, advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane said it was “shocking” when the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) declined to prosecute African National Congress (ANC) secretary-general, Fikile Mbalula on allegations of money laundering after he received a loan from a supplier to the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC).

Sedgars Sports, a popular sports clothing manufacturer owned by the Dockrat family, paid for the family holiday when Mbalula was minister of sports in 2016, and he subsequently took his family on the holiday to Dubai.

Last year, IOL reported that the NPA said it would not be prosecuting Mbalula over the allegations of money laundering.

“This is in relation to the Public Protector's report released on December 19, 2019, that the NPA should look into the allegations that Sedgars Sports funded the Mbalula family holiday to Dubai between December 2016 and January 2017, when he was the Minister of Sports Arts and Culture,” NPA spokesperson in Gauteng, Lumka Mahanjana said at the time.

ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula. File Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi / Independent Newspapers

This week, AfriForum's private prosecution unit insisted Mbalula has a case to answer to, and in a “significant step” towards privately prosecuting him, the unit has collected the docket from South African Police Service (SAPS) headquarters after successfully filing a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application.

“The unit is even more convinced that Mbalula has a case to answer to. After a cursory inspection of the evidence, it is abundantly clear that the decision not to prosecute Mbalula was irrational. The evidence suggests collusion between witnesses and the SAPS; a failure to obtain statements from important witnesses and possible suspects; a failure to obtain valuable records and data; and poor cooperation between the SAPS and prosecutors,” according to Barry Bateman, spokesperson for the AfriForum specialised unit.

On Friday morning, Mkhwebane told broadcaster Newzroom Afrika that the NPA decision not to prosecute Mbalula had raised eyebrows.

Former Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane who is now an EFF Member of Parliament. File Picture: EFF

“It was shocking to discover that the National Prosecuting Authority decided not to prosecute because there was evidence which we relied on as the Public Protector that Mr Mbalula received that free donation which he later turned into a loan. That was also paid in cash, and we were questioning the R150,000 cash which he paid to a travel agent. He was alleging that he is paying back R680,000 which he got from Sedgars, the company which paid for his family trip,” said Mkhwebane.

“I think that violated the financial intelligence laws because as a South African, there is an amount of cash which you are allowed to be carrying around. We wanted them to look into that part, but then they decided not to prosecute.”

Mkhwebane, who was ousted as Public Protector and now serves as a Member of Parliament for the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) said the NPA should have probed whether the money which took the Mbalula family to Dubai was not proceeds of crime, or if money laundering was committed.

Last year, the NPA’s Mahanjana said the referral from the then Public Protector, Mkhwebane, was to investigate whether the trip was proceeds of money laundering, “with the view to prosecute anyone who may have been involved in criminal activities”.

Mahanjana said a case was opened at Brooklyn police station.

“After police investigations, guided by the prosecutors in the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crime Unit (SCCU) office, and the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) office, a decision to decline to prosecute anyone in this matter was taken, as there is no evidence supporting allegations of criminal activity,” Mahanjana said previously.

Mkhwebane's investigation into Mbalula's Dubai vacation in 2016 found that the then minister violated the Constitution. Mkhwebane said it was inappropriate for Mbalula to have entered into a "loan agreement" with Yusuf Dockrat, director at Sedgars which supplies sports apparel to the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee.