SIU readies update on Fort Hare University probe for Ramaphosa

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is expected to submit the second interim report into the affairs of the University of Fort Hare to President Cyril Ramaphosa by the end of the month.

SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago confirmed to Sunday World yesterday.

Kganyago said that the SIU obtained the proclamation in August 2022 giving it the powers to investigate allegations of maladministration in the awarding of honours degrees, mismanagement of funds and sourcing of public servants for study into various faculty programmes by an individual for personal gain. The unit submitted its first interim report to Ramaphosa late last year.

On Tuesday, 15 people comprising university staff and service providers appeared in the magistrates’ court in Dimbaza, about 19km from Qonce in Eastern Cape on various allegations including fraud, corruption and racketeering.

About half of the accused comprised former Fort Hare employees.

They are human resources director Paul Tladi; head of investigations and vetting Isaac Plaatjies; acting fleet manager Mbulelo Gingcana; manager in the vice-chancellor’s office Nozuko “Zuki” Mabombo; finance manager Louis Nkateko Mawila; senior administrator and personal assistant in the investigations and vetting department Anna Smith; and Thamsanqa Sonjica, who is in the security and protection department.

The others were the varsity’s service providers, including lawyer Bradley Conradie of law firm Bradley Conradie Halton Cheadle, Anwar Khan of the Pentagon Group, which provides bodyguard services to celebrities, including slain rapper AKA, Sarah Burger, Wayne van der Haar, Graig Retief, Lucrecia Davids and Nthabiseng Makhoba.

Senior cop Terrence Joubert, who worked for the National Prosecuting Authority’s Asset Forfeiture Unit, was also an accused in the Fort Hare case.

Prof Sakhela Buhlungu, vice-chancellor, said the university employees who appeared in court this week were either dismissed or suspended.

“The ones from the university were already outside the door; either suspended or already dismissed,” he said.

There was drama at the court when the defence applied for the magistrate Nontuthuzelo Sontlaba to recuse herself as she was presiding over murder and attempted murder cases at Fort Hare.

Sontlaba recused herself. In another day full of surprises, the defence asked for the case to be dismissed.

Advocate Peter Daubermann, who is representing two of the accused, argued that there were defects in the warrants of arrest and that the court did not have jurisdiction. He was supported by other defence lawyers in his submission. The court has since dismissed the application.

Van der Haar and Burger were granted bail of R50 000 each on Tuesday. Plaatjies abandoned his bail application because he is in custody for charges of murder and attempted murder.

The bail application of the other 12 accused will continue this week with a new magistrate.

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