Former minister Bongani Bongo released on R5000 bail
Cape Town - African National Congress member of parliament and former state security minister Bongani Bongo has been arrested on corruption charges and released on bail of R5 000 after appearing in court, the National Prosecuting Authority said on Thursday.
The charges against Bongo relate to allegations that he sought to bribe Advocate Ntuthuzelo Vanara the evidence leader in Parliament's inquiry into state capture at power utility Eskom, NPA spokesman Eric Ntabazalila told African News Agency.
Ntabazalila said Bongo appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate's Court on Thursday morning following his arrest by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (known as the Hawks).
His bail conditions include being prohibited from travelling without the prior consent of the investigating officer.
His next court appearance has been set down for January 31. Ntabazalila said the case would be transferred to the Western Cape High Court thereafter given the seriousness of the charges.
He added that there were indications that Bongo would seek to make representations to the NPA.
The Hawks said the investigation had been completed and confirmed that the NPA head in the Western Cape, Advocate Rodney de Kock, had decided that the matter would be heard in the high court.
"The State alleges that in October 2017 at Parliament, Bongo offered Adv Vanara an unlawful gratification in the form of a monetary benefit, requesting him to decide the exact amount required, to stop the inquiry from proceeding," the Hawks added.
The inquiry probed allegations of state capture at Eskom, road, rail and ports firm Transnet and arms manufacturer Denel and heard sensational evidence of the extent of high-level manipulation to help secure companies linked to the wealthy Gupta family -- friends of former president Jacob Zuma -- secure contracts with state entities.
Bongo was elected as the chairman of Parliament's portfolio committee on home affairs in July, becoming one of several politicians who had served as ministers under Zuma to be named to key posts in the legislature.
The corruption charges against him were initially brought by the main opposition Democratic Alliance after Vanara said Bongo had offered him a "blank cheque" to suppress the probe.
The ruling ANC's chief whip Pemmy Majodina on Thursday noted Bongo's arrest but declined to comment on the case.
"As the ANC, we will not comment on the allegations labeled (sic) against Comrade Bongo as we want to allow the law to take its course," she said in a statement.
Parliament's ethics committee had earlier this year begun the process of looking into misconduct allegations against him, stemming from the alleged attempt to bribe Vanara.
African News Agency/ANA