AfriForum has criticized the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for failing to charge Fikile Mbalula in connection with an R600,000 family trip to Dubai allegation.
Lumka Mahanjana, an NPA spokesperson, stated that after the Public Protector’s report was released in December 2019, the NPA investigated allegations that Sedgars Sports funded the Mbalula family vacation to Dubai between December 2016 and January 2017.
According to the reports, then, Mbalula was the sports, arts, and culture minister.
“The referral from the Public Protector was to investigate whether the trip was proceeds of money laundering, with the view to prosecute anyone who may have been involved in criminal activities,” she clarified.
She stated that the NPA took the decision after consulting with prosecutors in Pretoria’s Specialised Commercial Crime Unit and the Director of Public Prosecutions because there was no evidence to corroborate charges of illegal behavior.
According to Barry Bateman of AfriForum, the ruling was unreasonable and incorrect.
Then, in a letter to AfriForum, Gauteng Director of Public Prosecutions Advocate Sibongile Mzinyathi stated that the first reason for not pursuing the case was that the money used to pay for the trip was an R300,000 loan made to Mbalula by a person acting in their personal capacity, which was paid back in full and with interest.
According to Mzinyathi, Bateman stated that the investigation delved further into whether there was a quid pro quo between Mbalula and the individuals associated with the two companies listed, namely Reiman Uniforms and Sedgars Sport, and it could not be established.
“While the Private Prosecution Unit also believes the payment was not a loan, the NPA’s position does not provide an excuse to not prosecute Mbalula,” Bateman said.
He added that “Section 3 of the Prevention and Combatting of Corrupt Activities Act defines a ‘gratification’ as ‘any donation, gift, loan, fee, reward, valuable security, property or interest in property of any description, whether movable or immovable or any other similar advantage’.
“Sadly, but not surprisingly, the second reason provided by the NPA further demonstrates prosecutors’ very poor understanding of the crime of corruption.”
He said that the NPA took nearly four years to reach this conclusion. Delays like these invariably hurt the chances of a successful prosecution.
The Private Prosecution Unit, however, is persuaded that Mbalula has a criminal case to answer. According to Bateman, the unit will now carefully evaluate its next steps to guarantee that justice is served.