Prasa office. Picture: African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Prasa office. Picture: African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Prasa paid R8m ’handling fee’ for ANC’s R80m mystery donation

By Loyiso Sidimba Time of article published Feb 25, 2021

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THE commission of inquiry into state capture has heard that the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) may have paid a middleman an R8 million handling fee to facilitate an R80m donation to the ANC.

Crowe Forensics SA director Ryan Sacks, a chartered accountant appointed by the Hawks to investigate payments made by Prasa to Auswell Mashaba’s Swifambo Rail Leasing and its parent company Swifambo Rail Holdings, on Tuesday told the commission that the R8m would come from Prasa.

Evidence leader Advocate Vas Soni presented Swifambo’s CM100 statement of Swifambo’s affairs which Mashaba filed detailing its financial position and identifying its creditors and the amounts they are owed.

Soni said the statement of affairs is effectively an affidavit filed during a company’s liquidation by its creditors.

In his statement, Mashaba, who has been identified as Swifambo’s managing director and shareholder at the commission, explains that Angolan businesswoman Maria da Cruz Gomes and Johannesburg-based attorney George Sabelo unlawfully received and retained a sum of R79.4m and accordingly the amount is refundable to Swifambo Rail Leasing.

Mashaba said Swifambo Rail Leasing made a schedule of donations to the ANC through law firm Nkosi Sabelo Inc’s trust account.

Sabelo was a partner-shareholder in Nkosi Sabelo Inc.

The commission heard that Mashaba claims Swifambo Rail Leasing made these payments and admits that there was no rationale for these payments and they must be recovered from the recipients - Gomes and Sabelo – an amount of R88m.

”Shortly after Swifambo Rail Leasing was awarded the locomotive tender by Prasa, Mashaba and (business associate Makhensa) Mabunda were approached by two individuals who held themselves out to be fund-raisers for the ANC. The two persons were Gomes and attorney Sabelo, (who) at the stage a partner-shareholder in a legal firm Nkosi Sabelo,” reads the statement of affairs.

Mashaba now claims he only agreed to arrange for a donation to the ANC of an amount equal to R88m due to pressure from Gomes and Sabelo.

According to the statement, Mashaba would receive a handling fee in the region of R8m and the balance in the sum of R80m would be paid as and when directed by Gomes and Sabelo.

”It was indicated to Mashaba that a company owned by Sabelo being Simulex would generate invoices to Swifambo Rail Leasing. Arising from the foregoing, payments were effected to Gomes and Sabelo and in aggregate the amount of R79.4m as indicated in the schedule,” he stated.

However, at an inquiry held in terms of section 417 of the Companies Act by the Master of the High Court, Sabelo testified that he had never been a paid fund-raiser for the ANC and the only part that he and Nkosi Sabelo Inc played in Swifambo Rail Leasing was to collect amounts invoiced by Simulex and hereafter he disbursed the amount received into the law firm’s trust account as directed by Gomes.

The commission heard earlier this week that the donations by Swifambo Rail Leasing for the benefit of the ANC never reached the ANC, which according to Mashaba, means Gomes and Sabelo have unlawfully received and retained the sum of R79.4m and accordingly these amounts are refundable to his company.

Soni asked Sacks: “Where was that R8m handling fee going to come from?”

Sacks responded: “The R8m came from Prasa”.

Swifambo liquidator Hannes Muller is expected to give evidence at the commission on Thursday afternoon.

IOL

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