Hawks officers investigating the case laid by Supra Mahumapelo – who claimed a hitman was paid R250 000 to kill him – now believe the allegation is fake.
Although the Hawks are officially investigating a case of conspiracy to commit murder, two sources close to the investigation told City Press this week that they “are not buying” the version given by the North West premier’s source.
Mahumapelo has come under increasing pressure to leave office. Last week, he took indefinite leave instead of resigning as he had promised. His entire provincial government was placed under administration this week after an assessment by an interministerial task team, as well as due to allegations of widespread corruption and maladministration, and the near collapse of provincial health services.
Mahumapelo is expected back at Luthuli House tomorrow, where his fate as premier will most likely be sealed. He will be leading the North West ANC’s provincial working committee in a meeting with the party’s national working committee.
In what his detractors across the province decried as an attempt to deflect attention from his province’s woes, Mahumapelo laid a complaint at the Mmabatho Police Station earlier this month and told police that he had been tipped off by a young woman from Mahikeng about an assassination plot. He introduced the woman to the police.
But the case started falling apart when the docket was transferred to the provincial Hawks unit, and after officers interviewed the woman and found her “not convincing at all” as she gave contradictory statements and had suspiciously little detail about the actual assassination plot.
“It was not difficult to read between the lines and realise the girl was probably coached to lie, but she is definitely not a good liar or was not well trained,” one source said.
“But then, we’re trained to detect it when someone is lying. The premier could have been lied to, or it can be anything really, just not the truth.”
The woman also told officers that she was the daughter of a local event and marketing company owner, and claimed to be the “coordinator” of the “prime circle”, which she claimed consisted of a group of Mahumapelo’s detractors.
“She failed to give even a single name when asked who exactly was in that group, saying they were using code names and gave three or four numbers as her own code name,” another source said.
“She is from Mahikeng and explained that most of their meetings were held locally, but still she doesn’t know the name of a single person in a group she claims exists.”
When asked to explain her role in the “prime circle”, she could provide no believable clarification.
“She said money was dropped by some people in the group as a deposit to some hitman, but for someone who claims to be a convenor. She could not say by whom, where the drop-off was made or for whom. She is a young girl and was not convincing or helpful at all,” the source said.
“It is difficult for officers to determine how she made with Mahumapelo, but she told them she spoke to the premier and a senior security official, who happened to be a former senior Hawks official in the province, about it. It is clear from her phone records that she has been in with the premier.”
Another source said that, while the Hawks were questioning her, Mahumapelo phoned her.
“She explained to the caller that she was busy with the Hawks and cut the call,” he said.
His son’s dodgy pilot’s bursary
Meanwhile, it has emerged that, not only were there irregularities with state defence company Denel’s awarding of a pilot’s bursary to Mahumapelo’s 20-year-old son, Supra Oarabile Mahumapelo, but his brother Tau also received a R1.5m cybersecurity contract from the cash-strapped parastatal.
Sources told City Press’ sister newspaper Rapport that this information would soon be presented to Denel’s board and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan for consideration after two independent investigations into the matter.
ENSafrica was tasked with the investigations after a report in City Press last month detailed the R1.1m bursary Denel gave to Mahumapelo junior to become a passenger jet pilot. Investigators say Denel is paying more than its own bursary conditions allow for a qualification that will not benefit any of Denel’s divisions.
Gordhan and the board will have to decide whether corruption charges will be brought against Denel’s executive and other people involved.
“It was a case of a favour for a good friend,” a senior source said.
Denel chief executive Zwelakhe Ntshepe, who signed the bursary agreement, resigned last week “for personal reasons” after two extraordinary board meetings.
Tau served on Denel’s board until 2016. His Denel cybersecurity contract was still valid until at least three weeks ago, said Deon Reyneke, the deputy chief secretary of energy and defence at trade union Solidarity, which represented several of the whistle-blowers in the investigation. The forensic investigators allegedly found that Tau’s company had no cybersecurity experience.
The bursary for Mahumapelo’s son, which had not been budgeted for amid Denel’s financial crisis, was apparently recovered from Denel’s social upliftment budget for poor and disadvantaged children to help them qualify as engineers. Because so much was spent on Mahumapelo junior, several of these children presumably lost their financial assistance.
Denel’s new board chairperson Monhla Hlahla told City Press that the investigations were commissioned to determine whether Denel’s rules were violated in the granting of bursaries or other contracts. The reports should be considered by the end of this week.
“Once we have all the facts, findings and recommendations, the board will make a decision. We have specifically appointed a committee within the board to conclude this matter quickly,” Hlahla said.
“The board wants to get all the problems out of the way as soon as possible so that we can stabilise Denel. It was a month of revelations and discoveries that were extremely difficult.”
ENSafrica declined to comment, citing client confidentiality.
Numerous attempts to Tau Mahumapelo for comment this past week were unsuccessful. He did not respond to numerous voicemails or text messages sent to three different telephone numbers.
Supra Mahumapelo’s spokesperson Brian Setswambung on Friday said that Mahumapelo could not comment on the Denel inquiry. In an earlier speech to supporters, Mahumapelo said his son had applied for the bursary himself and received it on his own merit. He also undertook to repay the bursary money if such a decision was made.
Setswambung would also not comment on anything to do with the attempted murder case, saying it was with the police.
Hawks North West spokesperson Captain Tlangelani Rikhotso confirmed they were “investigating a case of conspiracy to commit murder and we have not made any arrests”.
“I can’t comment on the premier’s security. Unfortunately, I also cannot comment about the witness. What I can say is that the matter is currently under investigation by our Mahikeng Commercial Crimes Unit,” he said.
No one else is buying it, either
This is the fourth alleged plot to kill Mahumapelo, and the ANC provincial executive council (PEC) in North West said it was “shocked and disturbed” by “the current plot to permanently silence our provincial chairperson”. But not all of them agree.
PEC member and Mahumapelo nemesis Mmoloki Cwaile said: “The insinuations, inferences and imputation suggestive of intent to kill Comrade Mahumapelo are aimed at garnering mercy and sympathy for him.”
Lucky Kgabi from the Revolutionary Council, a grouping of ANC members and the public that has been openly critical of Mahumapelo, said: “We never believed from the beginning that there was a plot to kill Mahumapelo. If it is a false claim; he must be charged. In fact, we encourage the Hawks to investigate this thoroughly.”
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