Mbabane: There is uncertainty on how and when will Hosea Member of Parliament Mduduzi ‘Bacede’ Mabuza’s the pending court case will end as developments are that the public prosecutor has applied that Senior Magistrate Sifiso Vilakati should recuse himself from the case.
This transpired on Tuesday, November 24, as the MP’s case returned to court following its postponement on August 25, 2020.
The application by the crown was made after the resumption of the hearing at 2 pm after it was adjourned at 1:40 pm. Upon the resumption of the case, the Senior Magistrate, Sifiso Vilakati told the court that during the short adjournment he was approached by the crown, Mbutfo Mamba and the defence Mduduzi ‘Tsotsi’ Mabila where the crown applied that the magistrate recuses himself from the case.
Vilakati said the crown applied that the magistrate recuses himself from the case based on the fact that he (Magistrate) upheld the objections of the defence during the testimonial of Senior Superintended Clement Sihlongonyane who was the first witness to be called by the crown to the stand before the court was adjourned.
Magistrate Vilakati said during the short meeting they held with the two parties being the crown and the defence, the latter asked the crown to provide in writing all the reasons that led to the recusal application. Vilakati said for that reason the case could not proceed. He said on December 7, the crown should submit the written reasons and they will be heard on December 8.
Before the adjournment from its first session of the trial, MP Mabuza’s charges were read out and he pleaded not guilty in all eight of them. Mabuza is currently charged with eight (8) counts that include contravening Section 69 (1) (g) of Police Service Act No.22 of 2018 for allegedly refusing Senior Superintended Clement Sihlongonyane entry into bedsitter houses belonging to Mabuza’s brother Sifiso.
He allegedly contravened Section 16 (a) of the Prevention of Corruption Act No.3 of 2006 when he supposedly refused entry to an SRA officer Siboniso Simelane on the said premises. The above mentioned counts are among the eight counts alleged charged against MP Mabuza.
After reading of the charges, the then crown called the leading investigator, Senior Superintended Clement Sihlongonyane to the stand. Sihlongonyane was asked to explain to the court when he started his investigation and what motivated it.
Sihlongonyane said on July 29 a group of investigators from different stakeholders including Royal Eswatini Police Services (REPS), Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), and Eswatini Revenue Authority led to the arrest of the MP. Sihlongonyane stated that the combined investigators was mandated by Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC). He further mentioned that the matter was based on the fact that during this time there were three candidates running for senate position to replace the late Senator Mike Temple.
He said before becoming a nominee in terms of the constitution section 96, a candidate should be tax compliant before he can be elected into the senate seat.
Officer Sihlongonyane said it was then that an investigation commenced on the three aspiring senators being, Hlophe Jimmy, Bongani Comfort Matsebula and Sifiso Mabuza, with intent to verify if they were tax compliant in terms of section 96.
After the investigation a report was made wherein it was found that two aspiring senators were found to be without blemish and tax compliant, being Matsebula and Hlophe.
Brother to Hosea MP, Mduduzi Bacede Mabuza, Sifiso Mabuza, was found to have flouted the tax payment procedures where it was discovered the assets he submitted to tax authorities did not match with the assets returned to tax.
The assets were too minimal than those submitted to what he owns. The assets were in terms of movable and unmovable assets. It was discovered that Sifiso Mabuza was not employed vs. huge assets owned in Swazi National land and urban land.
On July 29, Sihlongonyane gathered his team and drove to Mvutjini where they found Siboniso Simelane who is the manager of the flats employed by Sifiso Mabuza where they introduced themselves. In total the officers consisted of Clement Sihlongonyane, Elias Mlangeni, one Shiba and one Ginindza from the ACC and Nakile Mkhatjwa from the Ministry of Natural Resources and one Mr Dlamini from the SRA.
On July 29 they sought to know the owner of the flats from the tenants. The investigation unearthed that Siboniso Simelane was the one who manages the flats. The investigators couldn’t proceed due to the fact that Siboniso denied them access to the flats after he was informed by MP Bacede.
Consequently, the officers couldn’t proceed with the investigation. On the same day they went to Ebuka, under Swazi National Land (SNL) whose chief is Chief Sifiso Mashampu Khumalo. The officers found that the manager was not at Ebuka but in Nhlangano, after which they sought his number from the security guard.
While still at Ebuka the accused called Sihlongonyane through the number 7612 4688 and introduced himself as the MP of Hosea and talked about the issue. Sihlongonyane said he replied and said the issue at hand did not concern him as he was not in the race to become the senator but about his brother Sifiso, who had shown interest in replacing the late Senator Mike Temple.
All the while a group of young men who had been with Siboniso were taking pictures of the officers’ cars, interrupting the investigation which led to the officers seizing the cellphone which was in the possession of Siboniso, for further investigation.
Sihlongonyane went further and said on August 3 they went back to Mvutjini, with the belief that Siboniso would comply and cooperate with the team of investigators and upon arrival introduced themselves.
Siboniso is said to have called the accused person, MP Bacede and put him on loud speaker. Siboniso handed the phone to Sihlongonyane after talking instruction from the MP, where he again introduced himself as MP Bacede Mabuza. Sihlongonyane mentioned that the MP told the Sihlongonyane that they were abusing the rights of the tenants. Sihlongonyane mentioned to the MP over the phone that the matter was not about him but his brother, Sifiso Mabuza.
On August 4 the officers returned to Mvutjini and they met Siboniso again. Apparently, ever since the investigation, Sifiso could not be found anywhere.
On this particular day, they provided a search warrant that allowed them to ask the tenants about rentals of the flats, which led to the manager informing the MP that the investigators had come back. Over the phone, Sihlongonyane told MP Bacede that they had in their possession a search warrant which gave them authority to comp the place as well as gather more information from the tenants. However, Siboniso refused to take the search warrant, telling the investigators that he had been instructed by his bosses to that effect.
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