Why the Hawks swooped on Bobani

A bombshell affidavit of a Hawks investigator details how hundreds of thousands of rands were paid into the account of Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Mongameli Bobani by a company accused of siphoning money meant for the city’s beleaguered bus system.
The seven payments over a period of a year – totalling R664,000 – form part of the Hawks investigation into fraud, corruption and money laundering involving Bay municipal officials, politicians and businesses.
The transactions, from April 2014 to May 2015, are what prompted six Hawks investigators to swoop on Bobani’s office at the City Hall earlier in October.
Investigators from the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation seized computers and documents from several offices.
An affidavit from Hawks investigator Captain Henk Fourie which formed part of a search and-seizure warrant served on Bobani makes allegations of a “corrupt relationship” between him and businessman Fareed Fakir, whose companies benefited from multimillion-rand contracts from the municipality, most of which did not go through the proper tender processes.
According to the affidavit, seen by The Herald, one of Fakir’s companies, Heerkos Projects, paid Bobani R100,000 on April 30 2014.
Sixteen days later, an amount of R50,000 was paid from Heerkos to Bobani’s account.
Bobani was at the time an ordinary PR councillor of the UDM, which held only one seat in the council.
The affidavit states that the next three payments were made in November 2014 – R100,000 on November 3, R50,000 on November 7, and R10,000 on November 28.
Three days later, on December 1 2014, Bobani allegedly received R252,036.50 and, on May 8 2015, Heerkos allegedly paid him R102,000.
The payments in Fourie’s affidavit are listed under a timeline of events involving Heerkos Projects and its association with the Integrated Public Transport System (IPTS) and the municipality.
Fourie states in his affidavit: “On the grounds of the documented information on hand and the complainant’s affidavit and further on the extracts from the Deloitte Forensic Report, I have reasonable grounds to believe that the electronic devices as mentioned in the search-and-seizure warrant were used in the commission of an offence or suspicious commission of an offence and further that there was a[n] evident corrupt relationship between councillor Bobani and Fareed Fakir and his company Heerkos Projects."
Port Elizabeth lawyer Danie Gouws, who is representing Bobani, said on Friday his client was not a suspect and was co-operating with the authorities. “During an investigation, the authorities investigate guilt as well as innocence.
“There are certain issues regarding the municipality that are under investigation for some years and, at this stage, it is not to say that when the Hawks speak to the mayor or any other person they are a suspect.
“Also, the mayor can be contacted and is always available to the media and the public regarding municipal service matters,” Gouws said.
“When authorities are investigating certain issues, the mayor has the same rights [under] our constitution as the general public.
“Any questions in relation to the Hawks matter will be attended to by myself on behalf of my client.”
Gouws, who is also representing Fakir, said there was no comment to give at this stage on the businessman.
Hawks provincial spokesperson Captain Anelisa Feni said the matter was still under investigation.
“Therefore, we are unable to release information,” she said.
In May 2014, Heerkos Projects, trading as INPTS and specialising in project management, billed the municipality R9.895m for the development of an internet-based tender management system.
A preservation order issued by the Port Elizabeth High Court earlier in October says the money was transferred by a former assistant director in the municipality’s finance department, Nadia Gerwel.
The municipality never received the system, according to the order. Gerwel, former EP Kings rugby boss Cheeky Watson and events organiser Andrea Wessels face charges of fraud and money laundering. Their trial is set down for November.
Fakir, through his companies Heerkos, Jarami Projects and Erastyle trading as Stratcom, has benefited from tens of millions of rands in IPTS contracts for marketing and IT.
Heerkos Projects was the same company chosen by nowliquidated Lumen Technologies to be its local sub-contractor for the R174m IPTS contract in August 2012.
When former city manager Lindiwe Msengana-Ndlela tried to have the contract set aside by the courts, as Lumen allegedly inflated prices by up to 900% more than what they had charged the city of Cape Town for the same services, Bobani insisted the case should be settled out of court.
When The Herald exposed in 2014 how a number of Fakir’s companies had benefited from the IPTS tenders, Bobani said he believed the questions around the payments to Fakir’s companies were an attack on black-owned companies.

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