PUBLIC Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane yesterday revealed that the Hawks and the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) are investigating the company that donated a herd of cattle worth R1.5 million to former president Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead.
Mkhwebane said she had obtained evidence sourced independently and which was also provided to her showing that it is apparent that Zuma did receive 25 Bonsmara cattle and one bull from Agridelight.
She said this was confirmed by the payments made for the cattle by Agridelight, the delivery of the cattle and the submission of the company’s managing director Bolokang Derrick Montshwe.
”Although Montshwe contends that he personally donated the cattle to the former president, his use of the Agridelight’s FNB account and not his personal account to pay for the transaction does not support his version,” Mkhwebane said.
She added that the matter pertaining to the Agridelight’s flow of funds under Montshwe’s management is receiving the attention of the law enforcement agencies and that the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks) and the AFU are seized with the matter.
In her report, Mkhwebane said the Hawks in the North West informed her investigation team that they were currently seized with the investigation into Agridelight and alleged gratifications made to various individuals.
“The provincial head of the DPCI North West referred the public protector’s investigation team to the AFU as the latter had been involved in tracking and tracing the flow of funds within Agridelight,” reads the report.
Mkhwebane said that in July the AFU informed her investigation team that it was still seized with the financial analysis as part of their investigation into Agridelight as well as alleged gratifications made to various individuals.
The AFU said there is still a lot of groundwork that needs to be done in respect of the matter.
Former EFF secretary-general Godrich Gardee complained to the public protector after the Sunday Times reported that the herd of cattle meant for emerging farmers was instead delivered to Nkandla as a gift to Zuma from his political ally, former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo.
Mkhwebane said when Gardee lodged the complaint in April 2018, Zuma was no longer in office and therefore no longer subject to the Code of Ethical Conduct and Disclosure of Members’ Interest for Assembly and Permanent Council Members.
However, Mahumapelo at the time of the complaint was still the North West premier and was thus still subject to the Executive Ethics Code.
In his response, Mahumapelo told Mkhwebane to “kindly direct this question to Agridelight”.
The public protector found that there was no evidence showing that the North West environmental, agriculture and rural development department used public funds for the provision of the gift of cattle to Zuma because the cattle were paid for by Agridelight.
“Montshwe’s explanation seems to suggest that he used the Agridelight’s account funds to pay for the personal gift to the former president,” she stated.
Mkhwebane continued: “There is therefore no evidence to confirm that the former premier abused public trust and the fiscus for his private benefit. Even though Montshwe stated that he confirms the telephonic communication with the former premier on the day of delivery during which he was also in Nkandla that morning, unfortunately this could not be confirmed or corroborated by evidence”.