Publication: The Mercury Issued: Date: 2001-03-27 Reporter: Andre Koopman & Sapa Editor:

Yengeni under Attack for "Undeclared" Home

Publication  The Mercury
Date 2001-03-27
Reporter Andre Koopman & Sapa
Web Link

Cape Town - ANC chief whip Tony Yengeni, in hot water over his acquisition of a luxury 4x4, came in for more criticism on Tuesday when it was revealed that he had not declared a R268 000 Milnerton home he bought in 1994. 

In terms of parliament's register of members' interests, MPs have to declare gifts or assets worth more than R350, but Yengeni had not declared the home. 

Democratic Alliance chief whip Douglas Gibson on Tuesday released deeds office documents, which showed that Yengeni had bought the house on a bond of R286 000. 

'This is a strain on me and my family' 

Yengeni was not available for comment, although he has revealed for the first time the strain he and his family are going through over allegations of impropriety over his acquisition of a Mercedes-Benz ML320. 

"This is a strain on me and my family. it's not a thing for my children to be reading this (allegation) in newspapers and seeing it on television. "But I'm strong because I know that I'm clean. And I have had a lot of support," he said. 

It appears unlikely that Yengeni will be given more than a verbal slap on the wrist should it be proved he acted unethically in receiving a car either as a gift or a loan from a company which is involved in the R43-billion arms deal. 

Yengeni continues to carry out his duties as chief whip of the ANC in parliament as further allegations emerge that he failed to declare his ownership of an upmarket house. 

'I'm clean ... I have nothing to hide' 

Yengeni said that he had yet to be contacted either by investigators from the three agencies mandated to probe the arms deal or by parliament's ethics committee. 

Gibson said in the letter to Sr Bernard Ncube (ANC) that Yengeni had disclosed - in 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000 - that he owned property in Guguletu, bought in 1991, although he appeared not to be the registered owner. "Mr Yengeni needs to explain why he failed to declare the (Tijgerhof) property, as he is required to in terms of the code of conduct," the letter says. 

Following newspaper reports, Gibson asked for the committee to investigate allegations that Yengeni might have failed to disclose a gift of a Mercedes-Benz 4x4 from DaimlerChrysler Aerospace (Dasa). "On the face of it, and at the very least, Yengeni appears to have had the free use of an expensive motor vehicle for a lengthy period, without the benefit being disclosed." 

Parliament's committee on ethics and members' interests will meet at 11am on Wednesday to discuss Gibson's complaint. 

In a radio interview on Wednesday, Yengeni dismissed as a pack of lies claims that he had received the car as a kickback from Dasa, which through its successor has a 33 percent stake in Reutech, which won a R220 million radar contract in the controversial arms deal. 

"Neither myself or the acquisition of the vehicle has anything to do with the arms procurement deal. Anyone who believes otherwise should present their information to the investigators. "There is nothing sinister about the acquisition of the car. The car is still with me and I am paying for it." 

When asked why he had made his first payment on the vehicle seven months after it was registered in his name, Yengeni said the Sunday Times should substantiate its claim. 

"I am ready to submit to a formal investigation and will not subject myself to a trial in the media. I'm clean ... I have nothing to hide." 

Yengeni said he hoped for a quick investigation so that he could clear his name. 

With acknowledgement to Andre Koopman, Sapa and The Mercury.