Johannesburg – The R84million fraud case involving former national police commissioner Lieutenant-General Khomotso Phahlane and several other high-ranking officers looks set to continue next year, despite accusations of State prejudice against the accused.
On Thursday in the Johannesburg Specialised Commercial Crimes Court, sitting in Palmridge, the best efforts of Phahlane’s attorney, Piet du Plessis failed to convince Judge Brian Nemavhidi that the continuous delays in the multimillion-rand fraud and corruption case were prejudicial to his client.
This followed an application brought before the court by State prosecutor advocate Richard Chabalala for a postponement to next year, citing new evidence and the establishment of the National Prosecuting Authority’s Investigating Directorate as reasons for the prosecution needing another extension.
The State’s case against Phahlane and the senior officers relates to alleged tender irregularities in 2016 during the bidding process to install, among others, blue lights, sirens, and radio equipment in Gauteng police vehicles.
The other accused are former Gauteng police head General Deliwe de Lange, Major-General Nombhuruza Napo, who is Gauteng’s current deputy police commissioner, Lieutenant-General Ramahlapi Mokwena, national divisional commissioner for supply chain management, Brigadier Ravi Pillay and Brigadier James Ramanjalum, SAPS head of procurement.
Vimpie Manthata, whose company, Instrumentation for Traffic Law Enforcement, allegedly fraudulently won the lucrative tender in 2016 by using a bogus tax-clearance certificate, had charges against him provisionally withdrawn.
The provisional withdrawal of charges spurred Du Plessis to ask why charges against the other accused were not withdrawn.
“The issue of the tax-clearance certificate, which now appears not to have been forged, forms the basis of the charges (against the officers). Why are the charges against (Manthata and his company) being provisionally withdrawn for further investigation, and not for the others?” Du Plessis said.
The prosecutor, however, argued that the State needed another postponement as a “search-and-seizure” operation carried out in July on Manthata’s premises had allegedly garnered more evidence for the prosecution. Chabalala did not reveal the nature of the new evidence.
“Investigations have also revealed that the financial affairs of some of the accused and their families are so intricate that the State needs more time to thoroughly examine their financial affairs,” Chabalala told the court.
Judge Nemavhidi said: “Having listened to all the arguments, I found no iota of evidence which suggests that there is deliberate conduct by the prosecution.”
All the accused have indicated that they would be pleading not guilty to the charges, and are out on bail. They are to return to the court in March.