Prosecution boss blocks arrest of BEE fronters

South Gauteng director of public prosecutions, Advocate Andrew Chauke, stands accused of blocking the arrest of the directors of a Joburg-based engineering company who were being criminally investigated for BEE fronting.

Had it not been for Chauke’s alleged interference, Alexander Elias Roditis, Mark Douglas Smith, Vanessa Chungu, Guy Phillip Le Roux, Ronald James Hoy and Raymond Crozier – all directors of NJM Heat Treatment & NDE Services (NJM) – would have been arrested last weekend.

This would have sent a strong message to would-be BEE fronters that the state does not tolerate fraud of black people being used as BEE fronts by certain companies to score lucrative government tenders.

The five suspects will have a chance to enjoy Christmas and New Year’s Eve and only attend to their alleged crime in February next year, all thanks to Chauke, according to our contacts. According to information from the police, warrants were supposed to have been issued for the arrests of the directors last weekend.

This after they admitted to have misrepresented the BEE status of the company in an attempt to score a lucrative tender at Eskom.

Instead of being nabbed after investigations led by Lieutenant-Colonel Dlamini, 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 the directors’ attorney, Ian Small-Smith, that the latter would secure warning statements before any arrests took place.

Police insiders said the prosecutor handling the case, Advocate Jacob 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 Toubatla’s colleagues believed the decision was imposed on him, especially because he was not consulted when the decision was made.

Sunday World learnt that Tloubatla, who is leaving next year, 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 Advocate Hans Wolfardt, were allegedly issued via WhatsApp last weekend in the afternoon.

“The flimsy reason mentioned was that Tloubatla is leaving the NPA in January next year, so another prosecutor would be allocated the docket to take a fresh decision on the matter,” said a source.

The responsibility to assign another prosecutor was handed over to Advocate Suren Naidoo, who was also expected to receive the docket as soon as possible to enable him to complete his task.

Small-Smith accused Sunday World and this reporter of pushing a particular narrative and agenda against the directors of the company.

 He disputed that the directors were instructed to report to the Hawks for their alleged criminal conduct.

“The judge [Fiona Dippenaar] instructed that the directors of NJM assure that a Section 34 report be submitted to the authorities. The report was submitted. No order to surrender themselves to be arrested by the police was made.

“Adv Hans Wolfaardt, a senior advocate in the Commercial Court, was tasked to deal with the matter. It is common cause that the directors knew about the police investigations and are certainly not flight risks.

 He said it made no sense other than to push a questionable agenda, to have the directors arrested before they have had the opportunity to address the allegations.

He said the directors would submit substantial written statements to the authorities setting out the facts of the matter.

The directors, he said, were confident that they would not be charged if an objective prosecutor, after studying the statements, decided on the matter.

He added: “The NJM directors have never met and have never spoken to Adv Chauke. The arrangement between the prosecution and Small-Smith was that the directors would provide warning statements in February 2024, whereafter a decision will be made on the matter.”

 Gauteng NPA spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane said that the organisation wished to dispel the notion that Chauke was involved in arranging that the suspects be granted the opportunity to file their warning statements by February 2024 and thereby stopped their arrests.

 “It is of importance to note that the case in question is not court ready as there are outstanding warning statements that must be obtained by the investigating officer.

“The prosecutor that was seized with the matter has since resigned and, therefore, the case docket must be allocated to a new prosecutor, who has to study the case docket and all evidence contained therein, including the warning statements,” Mjonondwane said.

“The decision taken by the Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Adv Hans Wolfaardt within the Specialised Commercial Crime Unit, to grant the accused an opportunity to file their warning statements before February 2024, was premised on above mentioned factors.

“This was after consideration that the suspects were known, they were not flight risks and are aware of the ongoing investigation process against them.

“These processes are applied in prosecutions in Commercial Crime matters,” said Mjonondwane.


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