Special Tribunal freezes pension of ex-head of State Attorney’s office in first order – News24

Judge Gidfonia Makhanya of the Special Tribunal has granted an interim order that the pension of the former head of the State Attorney, Kgosi Lekabe, be frozen pending the finalisation of proceedings against him.

Lekabe was also ordered to pay the costs of Tuesday’s hearing.

It is the tribunal’s first order since being established almost a year ago.

This comes after the tribunal heard that the R4m pension may be the only security the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has if it is successful in its bid to preserve his assets pending a probe into alleged corruption at the State Attorney’s office.

“His pension benefit is worth R4 million. This may be the only security if the applicants are successful. There is no alternative remedy. There is no prejudice to Lekabe, that money will be reserved and accumulate interest,” Advocate Dawie Joubert SC argued on behalf of the SIU, and the ministers of justice and police.

“The pension benefit is the only security that is of any substance for the applicants – if they are successful, the judgement would be hollow if they cannot recoup the money,” Joubert added.

The matter heard in the Special Tribunal, sitting in the Booysens Magistrate’s Court in Johannesburg, emanates from an investigation by the SIU into several allegations of irregularities within the Office of the State Attorney. The irregularities relate to an estimated R34m.

The R34m was intended for a claim by a man named Ayanda Kunene, who was shot by the police during a hijacking, but the order was later rescinded and the amount was never paid out.

“This advocate was paid an exorbitant figure within 17 months; he was a junior counsel, this is undisputed. What did he do? He managed to earn a fee of R75 000 a day; this should indicate to the tribunal that there must be something wrong. It calls for an interrogation. It shows that there was a corrupt relationship,” Joubert further argued.

Lekabe’s counsel, Advocate Desmond Brown, responded: “It is untrue that in the Kunene matter the state lost R34m. It [the judgement] was rescinded. This claim is not true. The money they say was lost was never paid out, therefore they cannot say it was lost.”

The unit is seeking a court order that Lekabe’s funds not be released by the Government Employees Pensions Fund, pending the finalisation of the proceedings against him.

In February last year, President Cyril Ramaphosa established the Special Investigating Unit’s Special Tribunal to fast track the recovery of funds lost to the state from corruption or irregular spending.

READ: SIU Special Tribunal receives first cases in bid to claw back SA’s ‘stolen’ billions

Lekabe has since resigned from his post following his suspension in October 2, 2018. He was facing 22 charges of “serious” misconduct.

Counsel acting on behalf of the SIU and the ministers of justice and police argued that Lekabe will not be affected by this interim order – should it be granted – because “he, as well as his wife, are gainfully employed”.

Lekabe’s counsel in response argued that the applicants had a weak case against their client as the allegations put before court “do not have any substance”.

“The law says in order for them to get that [interim] order they have to cross certain hurdles. They need to satisfy the court that the remedy they seek can be given – their case is weak because their own documentation contradicts the allegations they make.

“The allegations do not have any substance and the prospects of them succeeding in a trial court are weak,” Brown submitted.

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