While the Heberon affair – for want of a better word – appears to remain unattended in in-trays at Defence headquarters and the Ministry of Defence and Military Veterans, one public representative took the bull by the horns by asking police to investigate the “irregular, illegal and probable fraudulent order” of 1 300 020 Heberon units at a cost of more than $20 million (over R305 million at current exchange rates).
Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow defence and military veterans minister Kobus Marais this week took a four-page affidavit and a memory stick to Worcester Police Station requesting criminal charges be brought against seven people. They are former defence and military veterans minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula (now National Assembly Speaker); former SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Chief, retired general Solly Shoke; former SA Military Health Service Surgeon-General Zola Dabula; Lieutenant General Lindile Yam, current SANDF Chief of Staff (CoS); Lieutenant General Jabu Mbuli, SANDF Logistics Chief; and Brigadier General MJ Tyhalisi, Chief Director: Logistics at the time of the Heberon acquisition. Making up the seven is Gladys Kudjoe, Secretary for Defence.
Part of Marais’ affidavit has it more than $2 million (R30 million plus, again at current exchange rates) was paid to Cuba under the guise of “training of technicians in the organisation of transport techniques and repair and maintenance of transport assets”. This he avers is both false and untrue.
He uses Auditor General findings to support allegations all undertakings and payments said to be in terms of Project Thusano, a bilateral defence agreement between the Caribbean Island nation and South Africa, are irregular and wasteful. Marais paraphrases Auditor General Tsakani Maluleke on the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) which states “the accounting officer for as department must taker effective steps to prevent unauthorised, irregular and fruitless and wasteful expenditure and losses resulting from criminal conduct”.
To date, this hasn’t happened in either the Department of Defence (DoD) or the SANDF and Marais wants police to investigate – urgently – in the best interests of “our democracy and the South African Constitution”.
Marais’ case is registered as CAS 197/6/2022 at Worcester Police Station.