Picture: Phill Magakoe/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Picture: Phill Magakoe/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Prasa contract-linked businessman Auswell Mashaba doesn’t know if ANC received R80m he paid

By Loyiso Sidimba Time of article published Feb 25, 2021

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Johannesburg - The ANC has again been drawn into accusations of malfeasance at a state-owned entity after a businessman admitted to the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture that the governing party’s representatives solicited an R80 million payment.

Although Swifambo Rail Leasing director and shareholder Auswell Mashaba has refused to co-operate with the commission by giving oral evidence, he had previously filed an affidavit explaining his role in his company scoring a R3.5 billion contract to deliver locomotives to the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) in 2012.

According to evidence leader advocate Vas Soni, Mashaba has admitted to paying the ANC R80m.

”I was forced to pay R80m to people who said they were collecting money for the ANC,” Soni quoted Mashaba stating in his affidavit.

However, Mashaba, Soni added, now claims he (Mashaba) does not know if the ANC ever received the R80m as the person he gave the money to has indicated that he never handed the money to the party.

The commission has decided to urgently lay criminal charges against Mashaba after he failed to appear on Wednesday, claiming the summons served on him was defective and adopting an attitude similar to former president Jacob Zuma.

Earlier this week, ANC MP and former transport minister Dipuo Peters testified at the commission that she wanted the ANC to investigate claims that the governing party received R80m from Swifambo.

Peters said had she been ANC treasurer-general, she would also investigate the people who are alleged to have received money in the party’s name. She said it was incorrect for people to go around getting money in the name of the ANC, but stated that she did not know whether or not the matter was investigated.

The police’s directorate for priority crime investigation – the Hawks’ official name – also came under fire on Wednesday after the chartered accountant they hired to probe the Swifambo deal in December 2015 said there was no communication after he prepared the report.

Crowe Forensics SA director Ryan Sacks, who was also employed by Werkmans Attorneys to conduct a forensic accounting investigation of the deal, told the commission that he handed his report on the investigation to the Hawks on April 20, 2017.

”That was the last communication I had with the Hawks. There has been no communication from the Hawks regarding this report,” said Sacks.

He said the Hawks assisted him by providing bank statements but he required more information to confirm certain findings he had made.

Sacks testified that subsequent to him providing his draft preliminary report, he did not receive any further assistance that he required.

”They have not come back to me since I handed them the draft report to enable me to complete the report,” he said.

Commission chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo expressed shock that in a couple of weeks it will be four years since Sacks, who is also involved in the investigation into the collapse of the VBS Mutual Bank, last heard from the Hawks.

Sacks said his investigation found that the flow of funds from Swifambo’s bank accounts supported the allegations made against the company.

Justice Zondo said it is in the public interest that Sacks complete his investigation and asked whether, if everything was done legally, Sacks would have any problem concluding it.

Sacks said it was difficult to say how long it would take to conclude the investigation, as this type of probe dealt with the concealment of funds. He said he and his team have already looked at 20 lever arch files of bank statements.

Sacks said he would require more work to confirm the flow of funds, what the recipients did with the money and obtain further bank statements.

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Political Bureau

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