Publication: Sunday Times Issued: Date: 2004-03-02 Reporter: Mzilikazi wa Afrika

Scorpions Probe False ID Claim



Sunday Times

Date 2004-03-02


Mzilikazi wa Afrika

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The Scorpions are probing a Johannesburg businessman for allegedly using a fraudulently obtained identity document to secure government tenders worth more than R20-million.

The Sunday Times can confirm that Charles Modise donated money to the African National Congress and even paid rent for the party's Upington office.

Modise, who is the managing director of Sedibeng Construction, is being investigated following allegations that he is a Malawi citizen with a South African ID book, which he obtained illegally.

Scorpions spokesman Sipho Ngwema, said yesterday that he could not comment on an ongoing investigation.

Last week it was reported that former Northern Cape Transport MEC, John Block, awarded Sedibeng Construction tenders worth more than R20-million.

A forensic investigation by the office of the Auditor-General has found that some of the tenders were improperly awarded and the company was also paid millions of rands for projects that did not materialise.

The Auditor-General recommended that the company pay back some of the money, to which Block agreed.

But Modise, through his lawyer, Lawley Shein, said this week that Sedibeng was paid for the work done for the province.

Shein said Modise donated R100 000 for an ANC dinner attended by Deputy President Jacob Zuma in the Northern Cape. He also paid R10 000 in rent for the party's Upington office "like any businessman would do".

In his statement, Shein said that "there is no substance to allegations" that there was something irregular in the way Sedibeng was awarded the tenders.

The statement also said that the company "cannot be held responsible" if Northern Cape government officials violated tender regulations after it was awarded the contracts.

Shein said all payments made to Sedibeng Construction were made for "work done in accordance with the terms of their agreement ".

The Auditor-General also recommended that Modise face charges of fraud after it was established that he was not registered as a professional engineer.

But Shein claimed that Modise "denied that he ever made out to the department that he was a professional engineer".

Responding to the new Scorpions probe into Modise, Shein said that his client was born in South Africa, but grew up in Malawi "because his parents went into exile there".

Shein said: "Modise is a South African and his ID book was not obtained in a fraudulent manner."

He also admitted that Modise at some stage used to call himself Charles Kasinja - a name that he was popularly known by in Malawi.

Shein admitted that at some stage Modise was investigated by Transnet for the same allegation - that he allegedly used his ID book to win a tender.

But, he said: "The probe found in Modise's favour."

With acknowledgements to Mzilikazi wa Afrika and the Sunday Times.