ANC MP Bongani Bongo (left). Picture: GCIS/ELMOND JIYANE
ANC MP Bongani Bongo (left). Picture: GCIS/ELMOND JIYANE

Former state security minister Bongani Bongo wants the decision to charge him with corruption reviewed, after he appeared in court for allegedly trying to bribe the evidence leader in parliament’s inquiry into state capture.

Bongo, an ANC MP and chair of the home affairs portfolio committee, appeared in the Cape Town magistrate’s court on Thursday morning after he handed himself over to the police.

He appeared on a charge of corruption after he allegedly offered advocate Ntuthuzelo Vanara “an unlawful gratification”, according to Eric Ntabazalila, spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in the Western Cape.

Bongo was earlier released on bail of R5,000 on condition that he does not interfere with any state witnesses and informs the investigating officer two weeks prior if he plans to travel outside the country. The investigating officer must then respond within 24 hours to acknowledge receipt of the request.

The NPA said the investigation is finalised, and that the director of public prosecutions (DPP) in the Western Cape, Rodney de Kock, has decided to try it in the high court.

“The state is in a position to postpone for a high court date, but the defence indicated that it wishes to make representations to the DPP for a review of the decision to prosecute,” Ntabazalila said.

The NPA said the case dates back to 2017 after Vanara was appointed as evidence leader into the inquiry by the standing committee of public enterprises into the affairs of state-owned entities (SOEs).

The state now alleges that in October 2017, at parliament, Bongo offered Vanara an “unlawful gratification in the form of a monetary benefit, requesting him to decide on the exact amount required, to stop the inquiry from proceeding”.

Vanara refused the offer and reported Bongo’s conduct. The case has been postponed to January 31 2020.

ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina said in a statement released by her office that she “noted” the arrest and the bail conditions. “As the ANC, we will not comment on the allegations labeled against Cde Bongo as we want to allow the law to take its course,” her office said.

Natasha Mazzone, DA spokesperson on public enterprises, said the DA welcomes the action by the Hawks as the party “has always maintained Bongo has a case to answer for”.

She said DA leader John Steenhuisen had laid criminal charges against Bongo in November 2017 — in fact, on November 22 2017, then DA interim leader, Steenhuisen laid criminal charges against Bongo in terms of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act.

Said Mazzone, “We have always held the view that the then minister’s actions were a gross violation of the law and his oath as a member of the executive.”