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Former president referred for criminal probe

Former South African leader Jacob Zuma and serving minister Gwede Matashe potentially face graft chargesFormer president referred for criminal probe

Former president referred for criminal probe

Former South African President Jacob Zuma at the United Nations General Assembly in 2017. © Drew Angerer / Getty Images

A South African corruption inquiry investigating allegations of graft during Jacob Zuma’s time in power, has referred the former president and incumbent mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe for criminal investigation.

The inquiry made the recommendation after a three-year investigation into Zuma’s administration, with the latest report focused on allegations of corruption and fraud regarding a privately-owned company, Bosasa.

“The evidence revealed that corruption was Bosasa’s way of doing business,” the inquiry alleged, accusing the company of having “bribed politicians, government officials, President Jacob Zuma and others extensively.”

Zuma is accused by the inquiry of having passed the company confidential information about criminal investigations into Bosasa, helping to hinder criminal prosecutions in return for bribes. If those allegations prove true, it would mean Zuma violated his obligations under the South African constitution.

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Mantashe was also referred for criminal investigation, with the inquiry claiming a criminal probe would lead to a corruption case against him.Bosasa reportedly installed security systems at three properties owned by Mantashe at no cost, which, the inquiry claims, was an attempt to build favor with the then-Secretary General of the ruling African National Congress (ANC). Mantashe admitted the security systems had been installed but claimed nothing was inappropriate about the arrangement.

Bosasa is currently in voluntary liquidation, after banks closed its accounts over the graft allegations.

Zuma denies any wrongdoing and has refused to cooperate with the inquiry, resulting in him being sentenced to 15 months in prison for contempt of court. He was released on medical parole in September but was later ordered back to prison by the High Court. Zuma is currently appealing the order to return to jail.

The inquiry further called for an investigation into ANC officials who, free of charge, arranged an election “war room” for Bosasa. The ANC has not immediately responded to the recommended investigation.

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