ANC MP and former state security minister Bongani Bongo was back in parliament on Tuesday, days after being arrested by the Hawks and charged with corruption.

Bongo, who chairs the National Assembly’s portfolio committee on home affairs, did not shy away from controversy in his opening remarks to a committee meeting to discuss strategies to resolve long queues at home affairs offices.

He said those who “watched their television” knew he was called by the national director of public prosecutions (NDPP) to appear in court on Thursday on allegations of bribery.

“I co-operated with the process and I appeared, and ... welcomed the charges that were brought. And in line with the constitution and the rule of law, I submitted to the process that I was subjected to. I am looking forward to, and assure the nation, that I will go to court and prove my innocence. Whatever the outcomes of the court will be binding to me and my conscience.” 

DA MP Joe McGluwa responded by reminding those present that the DA had “strongly appealed for you not to be elected as the chair” of the committee earlier in 2019. McGluwa said, however, that the DA believed in the rule of law and that it should take its course.

He thanked Bongo for taking the committee into his confidence by speaking about what had transpired.

“We take note of the announcement by the ANC that defended you and said it will not act. It is for the party and its right to do so. We want to wish you well so that we can hear the truth in this serious matter,” McGluwa said.

ANC MP Mosa Chabane reiterated the ANC’s stance that Bongo is innocent until proven guilty.

“We confide on the centrality of the constitution of the republic that you remain innocent until proven otherwise. We agree with your party that has pronounced on the status of a member. We remain confident on your leadership of the committee,” said Chabane.

He suggested that by accepting the process of the rule of law, Bongo and his party are showing they are disciplined.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA)  said the case dates back to 2017 after advocate Ntuthuzelo 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 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.

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