Top Eastern Cape advisor arrested on corruption charges
Nov 22, 2020
By Sisonke Mlamla
Port Elizabeth - A battle exacerbated by a corruption syndicate is brewing in the Eastern Cape after premier Oscar Mabuyane’s top advisor, Zandisile Qupe, 49, was one of nine people arrested by the Hawks in Port Elizabeth on Friday. Qupe along his co-accused Thando Ngcolomba, 60, Mhleleli Tshamase, 54, Walter Shaidi, 65, Nadia Gerwel, 55, Fareed Fakir, 51, Davit le Roux, 45, and Rukaard Abrahams, 30, were granted bail ranging between R5 000 and R100 000 in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate's Court on Friday, while on the same day 3,7km away, the ninth accused Mongameli Bobani's funeral service was conducted at the Feather Market Centre. EFF provincial chairperson Yazini Tetyana said they had already identified the alleged depth of institutionalised corruption within the ruling party and all the institutions it runs. Tetyana declared a fight for creation of a corrupt-free government as one of the urgent tasks of the economic freedom agenda. He said the acts of corruption in government siphoned away billions reserved for public service delivery, saying if law enforcement agencies and the criminal justice system failed to ensure punishment of perpetrators, they would continue to see the collapse of public institutions in the hands of "unscrupulous" ANC politicians. The accused are facing multiple fraud, corruption, and money laundering, exceeding R56-million, charges related to two projects in the municipality. Their case was postponed to March 12, 2021 for the matter to be placed at the high court. ANC provincial secretary Lulama Ngcukayitobi called for Qupe to be afforded an opportunity to present his case, and that the principle of presumption of innocence until proven otherwise is applied. "We will subject comrade Qupe to the ANC provincial Integrity Commission(PIC) and the organisation will decide which other internal organisational process to follow in due course," he said. DA provincial leader and the Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB) mayoral candidate Nqaba Bhanga said the DA, under the leadership of former Mayor Athol Trollip, laid criminal charges against those allegedly implicated in irregularities around the Integrated Public Transport Systems (IPTS), to speed up the process of bringing them to justice. Bhanga said the arrests were the first positive movements in the long-standing debacle, and hoped that it would serve as a clarion call to the Metro to start implementing the requests by National Treasury with regards to issues within the IPTS. The arrest of the nine came after the municipality was among those selected for a rapid bus system in 2010. The IPTS project was administered with funding allocated by the National Treasury. In the same year, another project for the implementation and maintenance of an Institutional Contracts Management and Administration System (ICMAS), was undertaken. Bhanga said in October last year, National Treasury threatened to recall R3 billion of the IPTS conditional grant allocations, if the recommendations made in a forensic investigation report into the beleaguered transport system were not implemented. Hawks spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Philani Nkwalase alleged that the service providers chosen on those two projects were reportedly irregular and their prices allegedly inflated, saying the matter was reported to the Hawks for investigation in September 2018, following an audit report by the National Treasury between October 2014 and March 2017. Bhanga said when the DA and its coalition partners took over in 2016, they were able to get the systems operational, after years of mismanagement and looting. He said under the current coalition of corrupt governments, the IPTS is once again on the brink of collapse due to criminality and unlawful actions. He called on the courts to act swiftly to ensure that those found guilty are to face the full might of the law.