File picture: Etienne Creux

Pretoria - The NPA's Special Commercial Crimes Unit (SCCU), under the now suspended Adv Lawrence Mrwebi, allegedly failed to investigate foreign bribery cases which involved bribes paid to South African officials to allow a Canadian company to obtain a Gautrain tender.

The same unit allegedly also ignored calls to investigate the possible bribery payments by an American company to senior government officials to allow Net1, commonly known as Cash paymaster Services (CPS), to get a lucrative multi-million Sassa contract to distribute social grants pension to more than 18 million people in the country.

This was the damning evidence heard during the second day of the sitting of the Mokgoro commission of inquiry tasked to probe the fitness of Mrwebi and suspended deputy National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Adv Nomgcobo Jiba to hold office in the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). 

President Cyril Ramaphosa set up the inquiry in October last year following a series of damning court judgments against the two. 

Some of the judgments found that the two were instrumental in the “malicious prosecution” former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks boss Johan Booysen and they allegedly also played a role in the withdrawal of murder charges against former Crime Intelligence boss Richard Mdluli.

On Tuesday, evidence leader Nazreen Bawa called her first witness Adv Chris MacAdam - former special prosecutor for foreign bribery cases to testify. 

In his testimony, MacAdam told the commission that he was appointed to the post by former NDPP Mxolisi Nxasana in August 2014. 

He said Nxasana effected his appointment after the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) raised a red flag about South Africa’s failure to investigate the foreign bribery cases, especially the arms deal.

MacAdam that OECD pointed out six cases - including the arms deal, especially the Ferrosster and Bombardier Consortium, as among the cases which needed attention at the time. 

MacAdam said that he then set up an Anti-Corruption Task Team (ACTT), whose primary duty was to investigate these cases where South African politicians were paid to allow foreign companies to do business in the country.

He told the Mokgoro Commission that his unit had made significant progress, including measures to execute prosecution, when he was abruptly removed from his post on October 1, 2015. 

MacAdam said a fellow deputy Director Public Prosecutions (DPP), Adv Andrea Johnson, told him that Adv Jiba had issued an instruction that he must hand over all his investigations to the SCCU under Mrwebi.

MacAdam said he was also removed from his post which was later given to Adv Lebo Baloyi without being given substantive reasons for the decision.

According to him, the SCCU failed to investigate all 10 priority cases, including the matter involving MTN and Cameroon officials. 

He also said in America, Hitachi officials were pleading guilty in their own country to paying bribes to South African officials but said none of those implicated were probed by the SCCU since his removal in October 2015.

The hearings continue.

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