Publication: Issued: Date: 2003-01-27 Reporter: Sapa

Malatsi Faces New Corruption Charges


Date 2003-01-27



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Deputy Social Development Minister David Malatsi, suspended from the New National Party (NNP) on Friday for his part in the Roodefontein development scandal, faces fresh claims of corruption.

The NNP has referred evidence that Malatsi's Khayelitsha NNP branch received R100 000 from the golf estate's developer, Ricardo Agusto, to the director of public prosecutions.

NNP leader and Western Cape premier Marthinus van Schalkwyk also alleged he used R18 000 of that money to pay for his stay during last year's World Summit on Sustainable Development at a guest house owned by his wife.

But, this was only after the premier ordered, in mid-November, an audit of invoices sent by Malatsi to the Western Cape administration for the amount, covering accommodation and subsistence for six nights for himself and his driver.

The deputy minister was then the province's environment and development MEC.

"In light of the above considerations, and the possibility that Mr Malatsi breached the Executive Ethics Code during his term of office as MEC, I have decided to refer the matter to the Public Protector," Van Schalkwyk said in a statement.

Malatsi, who is now under pressure to resign his national government post, declined to comment on Sunday, saying only that he would issue a statement on Monday.

The latest revelations mean Malatsi is facing investigations by the public protector into the R18 000 payment, and for a R300 000 donation paid to the provincial NNP.

He is also facing an probe by the public prosecutor for the R100 000 deposited into his branch's account and the R30 000 deposit - both by Agusta in April last year - after the Democratic Alliance (DA) laid corruption charges last week.

However, the DA said in a statement on Sunday the NNP could no longer avoid a judicial commission of inquiry. They claim Van Schalkwyk must have known about the donations.

"It is quite evident from the latest revelations of a further R100 000 donation from Count Agusta to David Malatsi's NNP Khayelitsha constituency office that Mr Van Schalkwyk is carefully controlling the release of information to implicate only his juniors.

"This cynical fagade of transparency is unacceptable," DA provincial environment spokesperson Robin Carlisle said.

The NNP suspended the party membership of Malatsi and former Western Cape premier Peter Marais on Friday pending an internal party investigation into the controversy.

Malatsi allegedly pushed through approval for the Roodefontein development, near Plettenberg Bay, after a meeting between himself, Marais and the developers, and receipt of the donations.

Marais, however, has claimed Malatsi knew nothing of the R300 000-donation, and that Van Schalkwyk was aware it; a claim the NNP leader denies.

Van Schalkwyk asked the deputy minister early last week to resign his national post, but Malatsi refused.

It was unclear whether Malatsi had met with President Thabo Mbeki on the sidelines of a three-day Cabinet lekgotla, which ended on Friday, to discuss his future.

The president is due back in South Africa later on Sunday after attending Ivory Coast peace talks in Paris.

Malatsi was one of two NNP deputy ministers appointed by Mbeki in early November last year in line with a cooperation agreement between the NNP and African National Congress (ANC).

The NNP's legal services director Dirk Bakker said on Sunday a regional party chairman had decided to check certain NNP bank statements in his region, after the allegations against Malatsi first emerged.

He discovered R100 000 had been deposited by Agusto into the "Khayelitsha constituency" account, of which Malatsi and his private ministerial secretary Mariaan Meyer, were the sole signatories.

"In light of the serious nature of these events and the fact that there is prima facie evidence of wrongdoing, we have decided to refer this information to the director of public prosecutions for further action," Bakker said.

With acknowledgements to Sapa and