ANC celebrates former MMC’s ‘acquittal’ too early

On Friday 18 May 2018, the ANC in Johannesburg released a statement claiming that their former MMC of Housing, Councillor Dan Bovu, had been acquitted on charges of corruption and theft.

In 2017, Bovu was arrested and awaiting trial for the alleged illegal sale of City owned land to two residents of our City, through the Thembelihle Development Trust.
Upon investigating how Councillor Bovu could have possibly been acquitted, without the City as the complainant and owner of the land sold being consulted, we have come to learn that the case was withdrawn because of material witnesses being unwilling to testify.

It was a far stretch for the ANC to claim that Councillor Bovu had been found not guilty on all charges, in fact the allegations are yet to be tested by a court of law.
In a twist of events, the City is now in possession of an affidavit from one of the witnesses, who was sold the land, confirming that they were recently paid R43 000, more than 8 times the amount of R5000 they originally paid Councillor Bovu for the land in the first place.

These payments were facilitated through the very same Thembelihle Development Trust for which Councillor Bovu was a founding trustee, in the form of a R16 000 bank deposit and R27 000 in cash. The Trust has also committed to additional payments which will see the witness receiving R100 000 in total.

Yesterday, I met with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to raise the City’s grave concern with the manner in which this case has been handled and to seek clarity on the ANC’s statement which alleged that Councillor Bovu had been found not guilty on all charges

The NPA confirmed that Councillor Bovu was not acquitted and that the matter can be placed back on the court roll. The case was merely withdrawn due to the material witnesses stating that they were no longer prepared to testify against Councillor Bovu on the day of his trial.

The NPA has also committed to investigate this matter further given the latest development of material witnesses being bribed not to testify.

In addition to the charges of corruption and theft, the City believes that additional charges need to be brought against Councillor Bovu and his co-accused. These include defeating the ends of justice, bribery and corruption.

In addition, should it be found that Councillor Bovu directly or through a third party sought to pay off witnesses, it would constitute a violation of his bail conditions. Councillor Bovu’s bail conditions stipulate that no witnesses may be directly or indirectly interfered with. In light of this, we believe the State should oppose any future bail application on this matter.

For the ANC to celebrate the ‘acquittal’ of Councillor Bovu only serves to demonstrate their hollow words when it comes to combatting corruption within its ranks.

The case against Councillor Bovu dates back to 2015 and had been delayed through a protracted process of the case being referred from one office of the NPA to another until the case was eventually nollied, despite their being a clear case for prosecution.

Upon entering office, this case was brought to our attention like so many others, and a report was brought to Council in August 2017. Council resolved that I should write to the NPA and demand reasons as to why this case was turned down for prosecution.

Within a matter of weeks I received a response from the NPA which indicated that they had decided to review the case and ultimately reinstate the criminal prosecution of Councillor Bovu.

The subsequent withdrawal of the case does not represent a final decision on the part of the NPA and cannot be confused with an acquittal. It most certainly does not amount to Councillor Bovu being found not guilty as the ANC would like the public to believe.

The pattern of events with this particular case should be of great concern to anyone who believes in the idea of people being equal before the law and the maintenance of a strong and independent criminal justice system in our country.

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