Businessman to be sentenced for attempted bribery of SIU official

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Sentencing proceedings for a Mpumalanga businessman who attempted to bribe a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) investigator are expected to kick off at the Mbombela Magistrates’ Court this morning.

According to a joint statement by the SIU and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Sipho Mapala was arrested after attempting to bribe the investigator to make “a COVID-19 procurement investigation” against fellow business person, Gugu Bulunga.

“Mapalala was arrested in August 2021 during a joint operation with the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation [the Hawks] when he was delivering a bribe of R50 000 to the SIU investigator,” the statement read.

According to the two agencies, Mapalala entered a guilty plea statement in which he acknowledged the wrongdoing.

“I knew it was wrong to provide money/payment to the investigator, as she was an official of the SIU. I gave this money to the SIU investigator to compensate the investigator and the other people the investigator referred to, to compensate them to crush the involvement of Gugu Bulunga.

“I wanted to help Gugu to get out of the mess which caused her severe anxiety and the threat to her life. I therefore admit that I corrupted the SIU investigator and that my actions were unlawful and punishable,” Mapalala said in the statement.

The case

According to the SIU and NPA, Mapalala and Bulunga’s troubles with the law began when the SIU launched an investigation into the affairs of the Mpumalanga Department of Public Works, Roads, and Transport which uncovered procurement irregularities.

“The SIU investigations revealed that the department contracted a service provider in the 2017/18 financial year for pest control services. However, when a National State of Disaster was declared, the Department varied the contract to include disinfection services in the Ehlanzeni District.

“The disinfection services were for buildings owned and managed by the Mpumalanga Provincial Government in the said District. After the disinfection, the service provider received multiple payments amounting to R4.8 million,” the statement read.

Immediately after the first payment of some R1.3 million, the service provider began to disburse the money to several entities and individuals.

“One of the entities that received money then made various payments which were traced to an Mpumalanga based law firm and two employees of the Department. The law firm bought a property to the value of R2.2 million and registered it in the name of a daughter of one of the two departmental officials.

“[During] August 2021, the SIU interviewed Bulunga … [who] was questioned about payments made to government officials and properties bought for government officials. Bulunga denied the allegations. Hours after the interview, Mapalala called an SIU investigator to declare that he is prepared to do anything to make the matter against Bulunga to go away,” the statement read. –