26 March 2023 | 02:03 PM

If it was a crime, did Juju know?

Key Takeaways

Julius Malema’s case will stand or fall on whether the prosecution can show that he “ought reasonably to have known” he was benefiting from the “proceeds of unlawful activities”.

Malema was charged with 16 counts of money laundering in the Polokwane Regional Court on Wednesday, amounting to R4.58‑million.

The money allegedly flowed to Malema’s Ratanang Family Trust, directly as dividends and indirectly as kickbacks, from a R52‑million contract that was allegedly awarded improperly to On-Point Engineering by Limpopo’s roads and transport department.

In September 2009, the department advertised a contract to administer a programme management unit that would take over many of its functions.

According to the draft charge sheet, On-Point beat 15 other bidders by allegedly making false claims about its experience, qualifications and tax status. On-Point directors Lesiba Gwangwa and Kagisho Dichabe have each been charged with four counts of fraud.

Once the contract was awarded to On-Point, millions allegedly flowed to Malema through two channels: dividends paid from On-Point to its shareholders, and kickbacks paid either directly or indirectly by service providers and subcontractors.

The Prevention of Organised Crime Act, under which Malema is being charged, states that “any person who acquires, uses or has possession of property and who knows or ought reasonably to have known that it is, or forms part of, the proceeds of unlawful activities by another person shall be guilty of an offence”.

The offence carries penalties of a R100‑million fine or 30 years in jail.

Constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos wrote that the “very broad scope” of the Act could be sufficient to secure a conviction.

Read also “Sars pursues millions in undeclared income”.

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The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism, a non-profit initiative to develop investigative journalism in the public interest, produced this story. All views are ours. See www.amabhungane.co.za for all our stories, activities and sources of funding.

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Aisha Abdool Karim

Aisha is a freelance science and health reporter. She is joining the amaB team to work on a project about water and sanitation. Aisha’s passion for long-form narrative and investigative journalism was sparked while doing her master’s degree at Columbia University in New York. After graduating in 2018, she returned to South Africa and began working as a general beat reporter for the Daily Maverick. Aisha joined the Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism in 2020 to focus on science reporting. During her time there, she covered the COVID-19 pandemic extensively — from fact-checking harmful medical misinformation to unpacking the science behind vaccine development. Aisha’s special interests include analysing health systems and in-depth coverage of public health issues and infectious diseases. She also loves spreadsheets and digging through data.

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