Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti chose the funeral of his one-time attorney and close friend Judge Bonisile Sandi on Friday (10/03/17) to dismiss allegations that he was involved in dirty land dealings.
Nkwinti was paying tribute to Sandi in Grahamstown’s Cathedral of St Michael and St George when he turned to look directly at the coffin.
“It’s not true,” he said softly. “I am speaking to my lawyer now. I need to account to you Boni.”
A recent Sunday Times exposé said Nkwinti was named in a draft report by auditors Deloitte as having facilitated a deal for friends involving a R97-million farm without following set procedures.
The draft report alleges Nkwinti received R2-million for brokering the lease deal for the Bekendvlei Farm, bought for R97-million by the department and handed over to long-time Luthuli House employee Errol Velile Present and businessman Moses Boshomane to manage.
At the funeral yesterday Nkwinti said he had prepared a letter to public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, asking her to investigate.
“It is because of you that I am a public representative, and as public representative I must allow myself to be scrutinised. That is what you taught me Boni,” Nkwinti said. He said he had requested the public protector to conduct a full lifestyle audit.
Nkwinti said the last time he had met Sandi, the judge had told him that there were things that were happening in government “that were not good” and he had urged Nkwinti to speak out.
“He said things are happening in government and you are part of it. Don’t keep quiet . . . Those were his last words to me. You can’t keep quiet.”
Nkwinti said Sandi’s words had made him realise things were not going well.
Sandi represented Nkwinti in the mid-1980s when the then activist was detained without trial under the state of emergency regulations. Sandi successfully challenged the regulations and Nkwinti was released
Speaker after speaker at the funeral referred to Sandi’s dedication, integrity and honesty, his intolerance of laziness and dishonesty, and his passion for education as a tool to overcome poverty.
Long-time friend Judge John Smith said he had been a passionate and meticulous lawyer with an exceptional legal mind who was not in it for the money but saw the practice of law as a means to make a contribution to liberation.