Fresh details of how BEE fraud-accused directors of a Joburg engineering firm were saved from spending Christmas behind bars, have emerged this week, raising more questions about NPA boss advocate Andrew Chauke’s alleged interference in the matter.
Sunday World has learned that deputy director of Public Prosecution within the Specialised Commercial Crime Unit, advocate Hans Wolfaardt, wrote to the police, who were on the brink of arresting the suspects, and told them not to nab them after their lawyer Ian Small -Smith approached Chauke.
Our sources said Wolfaard was not ambiguous in his request.
“I read the message in which he said ‘attorney Small-Smith approached the DPP (Chauke) about the arrest of Alexander Elias Roditis, Mark Douglas Smith, Vanessa Chungu, Guy Phillip Le Roux, Ronald James Hoy and Raymond Crozier that was planned for next week. Adv Tloubatla is the prosecutor’.”
In the lengthy text, said our moles, Wolfaardt also told Dlamini that it was decided the suspects be afforded the opportunity to make warning statements through their attorney.
Wolfaardt, said our deep throats, also pleaded with the lead investigator that the suspects should be given an opportunity to write warning statements, which should be submitted to the Hawks on or before February 29, 2024.
“The message said, ‘In view of the fact that Adv Tloubatla is resigning and leaving at the end of January 2024, the case docket must be submitted to adv Suren Naidoo as soon as possible to enable him to allocate a new prosecutor. No arrests must please be effected until such time as the new prosecutor has had an opportunity to study the case docket, inclusive of the warning statements, and to make a decision on the matter’,” said our informant.
The information comes after advocate Jacob Tloubatla, who was guiding police investigations in the case, complained that Chauke interfered and blocked the arrest of the directors who were being criminally investigated for BEE fronting.
According to information from the police, warrants , at the behest of Tloubatla , were issued for the arrests of the directors in December last year.
This after they admitted to having misrepresented the BEE status of the company in an attempt to score a lucrative tender at Eskom.
Instead of being arrested, Chauke allegedly insisted the accused be given a chance to submit warning statements before the arrest warrants could be issued and executed.
It is alleged that Chauke struck a deal with Small-Smith, that the latter would secure warning statements before any arrests took place.
Police insiders said Tloubatla, foresaw that the acquisition of warning statements would only delay the arrest, and he fiercely opposed the idea.
He argued the suspects would still have had a chance to lodge representations, even with the case on the court roll.
A police source said Tloubatla’s colleagues believed the decision was imposed on him, especially because he was not consulted when the decision was made.
Sunday World learned that Tloubatla, who is leaving at the end of this month, was unceremoniously booted from the matter following a dispute in which he insisted that the arrest should be executed.
The instructions to withdraw Tloubatla from the case, attributed to Wolfaardt, were allegedly issued via a WhatsApp message a few days before the suspects could be arrested.
The flimsy reason mentioned was that Tloubatla is leaving the NPA at the end of this month, so another prosecutor would be allocated the docket to take a fresh decision on the matter, said the source.
The responsibility to assign another prosecutor was handed over to adv Naidoo, who was also expected to receive the docket as soon as possible to enable him to complete his task.
‘’You have for many months now misled your readers about this matter and you continue to do so. You are receiving information from law enforcement officers who are supposed to be objective.
You have no issue with publishing incorrect information for you readers to consider. I am curious as to how you are in possession of a formal instruction that was directed from Adv Wolfaardt to Lt Col Dlamini.
As long ago as last week, the Hawks were unable to tell me which of my clients they wanted to take warning statements from and what the general allegations against them are.
It is ridiculous to think that the Hawks were instructed by the prosecutor to arrest people in December 2023 and in late January 2024, they cannot tell me who they want to arrest and what they allegedly did.
I have approached the NPA and DPCI to investigate the conduct of the prosecutor and the police.
As to your efforts to implicate Adv Chauke in wrongdoing, all his office did was to refer me to Adv Wolfaardt. One wonders on whose behalf you are baselessly attacking the DPP. You seem to support the fact the prosecutor and police managed to circumvent standing NPA procedures to get warrants authorised to arrest people without taking warning statements from them. You may think it is not a big deal until you find yourself on the receiving end of being arrested without being allowed to supply the authorities with your exculpatory version. It is one of the most fundamental rights a citizen of this county has. The fact that you have written 10 stories about this matter has hopefully not gone unnoticed by your readers,” said Smith-Small.