Parliament asked why it took Ntuthuzelo Vanara 16 days to report Bongani Bongo

Parliament asked why it took Ntuthuzelo Vanara 16 days to report Bongani Bongo
HEARSAY: The bribery and corruption case against former intelligence minister Bongani Bongo is entirely based on one affidavit written by former parliamentary official Ntuthuzelo Vanara (pictured) and is due to be heard in the Western Cape High Court in November 2020. PICTURE BY EWN

The affidavit will form part of the corruption case being heard at the Western Cape High Court in November 2020 where Bongo faces corruption and bribery charges.

An affidavit written by an employee in the then office of Ntuthuzelo Vanara reveals how on 5 September 2018 – when the ethics committee was hearing the matter of ANC NEC member Bongani Bongo – members of Parliament were “battling to understand” why it took Vanara 16 days to report Bongo.

Shihaam Lakgar’s affidavit is one of the pieces of evidence that Bongo’s defence team are currently putting together in order to argue that Vanara wouldn’t necessarily have laid the charge against Bongo had the latter not been appointed intelligence minister on 17 October 2017.

Vanara said on 10 October 2017 – which is 7 days before Bongo was appointed minister – the member of Parliament allegedly came to meet him in his office in Parliament and in their conversation he offered to bribe him so that he would stop the Parliamentary inquiry into the capture of Eskom.

ALSO SEE: Mosebenzi Zwane doesn’t believe Bongani Bongo would get fair trial

Vanara said when he met Bongo on the 10th of October Bongo told him that he was sent by Eskom acting board chair Zethembe Khoza to facilitate the meeting and ask for “assistance” from Vanara.

Vanara was an evidence leader for parliamentary portfolio committee that was investigating the capture of Eskom, Denel and the SABC – appointed on 1 September 2017.

The corruption and bribery matter against Bongo at the Western Cape High Court has only 3 witnesses – Vanara, Khoza and Lakgar.

SEE ALSO: Bongo hasn’t stepped aside and will do so once ANC says so, but must be in line with the country and the ANC’s Constitution

Lakgar and Vanara are both state witnesses while Khoza is brought in by Bongo’s defence team as a third witness in the case.

Vanara’s affidavit is dated 26 October 2017 – 9 days after Bongo became minister on 17 October and 16 days after the alleged bribery incident on 10 October. 

Khoza in his own statement denies he ever knew Bongo, more so having his numbers and said there was no way he could have asked Bongo to facilitate the issue Vanara is alleging as Bongo was a nobody in the political space to convince Vanara to stop an inquiry. 

He was merely a back-bench MP…

Despite these dates that Bongo’s lawyers are looking at, they also question why Vanara was given a job at the SABC soon after he laid the charge against Bongo – whether this was not a payment for “a job well done” during a time when tensions between the supporters of former President Jacob Zuma and current President Cyril Ramaphosa boiled over and smear campaigns were used against opponents. 

This also includes looking into why Vanara’s affidavit was first given to journalists to write a story before a copy of it was sent to Bongo.

Bongo was arrested in late 2019 following Vanara’s claims. He currently doesn’t comment on the matter, saying it is sub judice as it must be “dealt with within a court of law”.

Lakgar was employed in an administrative position in Parliament’s ethics and members interest office, where Vanara was appointed as acting Registrar from October 2016 until the end of October 2018 when he left to work for the SABC.

“The committee sat on 5 September 2018 after the committee was postponed about 3 times already due to administrative challenges,” Lakgar writes in his affidavit, referring to the ethics committee which dealt with the Bongo matter after it was referred to the committee by then speaker Baleka Mbete.

“The committee members were battling to understand why it took Vanara 16 days to make an affidavit, seeing that the allegations brought forward were of such a serious nature.

“A month later Vanara came to my office and showed me a contract that he had received from the SABC where he was appointed with a salary of R2 million,”  Lakgar said in the affidavit dated June 2020.

(edited by ZK)

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