Free State MECs off the hook after NPA withdraws corruption charges over a technicality

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has withdrawn corruption, fraud and racketeering charges against Free State MEC for agriculture and rural development Benny Malakoane; MEC for sports, arts, culture and recreation Mathabo Leeto and seven others in the Free State High Court.

"We are disappointed to learn that charges were dismissed," Roy Jankielsohn, DA leader in the Free State legislature, said in a statement on Tuesday. He said it appeared that the charges had been dismissed because of the "incompetence of the State in its prosecution". 

The charges relate to alleged R2bn tender fraud that has crippled the Matjhabeng Local Municipality. The  company Gestetner allegedly paid money into the personal account of Leeto's then husband after being awarded a R20m tender from the municipality.

"The State wanted to make changes to the indictment regarding the company in question and the problem is that the accused were directors of the said company which has now been liquidated," the NPA's Phaladi Shuping told News24.

The DA, however, alleges that the State was privy to this information two weeks prior to Monday's hearing and has previously postponed the case 15 times.

While the charges were withdrawn, the NPA has ruled out speculation that the State does not have a case.

'NPA failing to hold ANC leaders accountable'

"There is still a possibility that the State may reinstate charges once we fix the indictment," Shuping said.

The DA has accused the NPA of failing to hold ANC leaders accountable.

"The withdrawal of these charges once again shows that the NPA is unable to successfully prosecute fraud and corruption cases related to senior ANC politicians," Jankielsohn said.

Shuping rejected these claims.

"That is a very unfortunate remark, they cannot make such generalised statements," he said.

The NPA could not provide a time frame on the handing over of the new indictment.