South Africa’s former transport minister, Sbu Ndebele, has been quietly recalled as SA’s High Commissioner to Australia over allegations of fraud and corruption.
This was revealed in papers filed at the Constitutional Court by the Transport Department in its battle against Tasima, a company that allegedly paid Ndebele a R10m bribe in 2010 in order for it to expand its more than R2bn contract.
The department also revealed that Ndebele is no longer serving in Canberra, the Australian capital but “was recalled most recently as a result of the indictment” in connection with the alleged bribe.
Ndebele, who is a member of the ANC national executive committee (NEC), was indicted in December for allegedly receiving a R10m bribe from companies linked to Tasima through his Investec Bank account in 2010.
Details of his recalling are part of the department’s bid to ask the Constitutional Court to allow it to appeal a December judgment of the Supreme Court of Appeal that favoured Tasima.
He appeared in the Durban Commercial Crimes Court on charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering but is currently out on R10000 bail. Facing similar charges are his director-generals at the time, George Mahlalela, and Tasima.
The court papers presented by the Transport Department was prepared by senior counsels Jabu Motepe and Jeremy Gauntlett, among others. They insisted that the R10-million was a bribe so Tasima’s contract for managing the National Traffic Information System (eNaTIS) would be extended.
“This amount was paid during the months after the extension, and no legitimate basis or any rationale exists for the payment other than that it was intended as inducement for the extension,” stated the papers.
The department wants control of eNaTIS to be transferred to the Road Traffic Management Corporation, “which since 2005 has been readied for this purpose”. This is because eNaTIS plays key roles in the country’s traffic management, it involves administering driver’s and learner’s licence tests, vehicle licensing, and enforcing road rules and car road worthiness.
Though Ndebele is yet to speak on the matter, the Transport Department’s court application, Tasima denied that it bribed Ndebele or anyone for eNaTIS even as the case was taken to court on Tuesday for hearing.
Clayson Monyela, International Relations and Co-operation Department spokesman on the other hand withdrew from confirming or denying Nedebele’s recall.
“You’re saying another department has revealed (Ndebele’s recalling) in court papers, (so) why are you coming to us? Quote what the court document(s) say,” he said. Courts judgement on the case was reserved.