In what a Times Select report describes as a bruising court battle, lawyers for the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) struck a major blow in the fight against corruption, successfully freezing the government pension of a former State Attorney, who allegedly dubiously granted settlements in civil cases against the state.

Judge Gidfonia Makhanya, the president of the Special Tribunal, presided over the court’s first hearing, heard at the Booysens Magistrate’s Court in Johannesburg. Makhanya was ruling on an urgent application by the SIU to have the R4m pension of former state attorney Kgosi Lekabe temporarily frozen pending the outcome of a current tribunal hearing into him.

Lekabe, who used to head the State Attorney’s Office in Johannesburg, is accused of colluding with a former Johannesburg advocate, Hassan Kajee, in having civil suits against the state settled without the necessary permission.

The alleged crimes were discovered after the Police Ministry became suspicious in 2018 of a R34m payout the SAPS was to make to an Ayanda Kunene who was shot by police during a hijacking. He was suspended in October 2018 and resigned shortly after his disciplinary hearing began.

Kunene was initially accused of being involved in the hijacking but was later exonerated. The payout was stopped by the Police Ministry.

Advocate Dawie Joubert, for the SIU, said Lekabe had, through a previous High Court application, been trying to access his pension.

He said that to prevent irreparable harm being caused to the state it was imperative that the pension payout to Lebake be prevented, notes Times Select.

The SAPS lost over R5m in claims when matters were settled without authority. The SIU investigated fee notes and discovered nearly R26m paid to Advocate Hassan Kajee which Lekabe appointed to do work for the office between 2015 and 2018. The payments were for work which was either not done, for work which saw overcharging or for work which saw double billing.’

He said Kajee earned exorbitant fees within 17 months, which saw him being paid more than R75 000 a day!

‘Lekabe’s lawyer, Desmond Brown, accused Joubert of misleading the court, and dismissed the allegations as weak and without substance, arguing that the state had not actually lost the R34m.

‘The payment was stopped when the judgment was rescinded. There was never a payment, nothing was lost. Makhanya, in granting the interdict, said the Ministries of Police and Justice were seeking damages against Lekabe that ranged between R34m and R40m. The alleged damages are because of Lekabe’s alleged collusive and corrupt acts with Kajee.'

The SIU has adequately shown a prima facie case, the judge ruled.

Full Times Select report (subscription needed)