Scorpions poised to take on 'high flyer'

Anna Majavu

Anna Majavu

The Scorpions are moving to bring down Fana Hlongwane, a former Defence Ministry adviser and high command member of Umkhonto we Sizwe.

He is alleged to have received hundreds of millions of rands in a bribe from British Aerospace (BAE) to broker the government's purchase of 52 Gripen and Hawk fighter jets.

Hlongwane, a high-flyer whose company, Hlongwane Consulting, bought Porsche SA in 2006, reportedly lives a luxury life behind high walls in his Hyde Park mansion.

Investigative journalist Stefaans Brummer revealed earlier this year that an online discussion forum described Hlongwane as "a black multimillionaire like [Playboy mogul] Hugh Hefner" surrounded by "blonde" girls.

"One of them drives a Ferrari, another a Porsche and the list goes on; they wear Gucci this, Fendi that and they travel around the world just for shopping - which is what they do for a living.

"Apparently, one of them even travelled first class all the way to Brazil, just to do a Brazilian wax," the online forum alleged.

Hlongwane also reportedly owns a luxury coastal house in Zimbali, north of Durban, worth about R50million.

A former director of the state's arms company Denel, Hlongwane also worked as special adviser to former defence minister Joe Modise at the time that the arms deal took place.

Hlongwane's properties were reportedly raided on Wednesday, along with the offices of British Aerospace in Centurion, Pretoria.

The high-flying Hlongwane currently serves as director of the board of the military vehicle company, Ivema, and chairman of arms company Ngwane Defence.

The forum for African investigative journalists' chairman, Evelyn Groenink, says that Hlongwane Consulting was paid R14million a year by BAE between 2002 and 2005 to work as a "consultant" on the Gripen fighter jet project.

Groenink says Hlongwane received a further R55million in 2005 from BAE as a "termination payment".

The Mail and Guardian reported earlier this year that Hlongwane "is a friend and business partner of Siphiwe Nyanda, the former defence force chief and a key player in the new ANC leadership's moves against the Scorpions".

Hlongwane did not respond to messages left at his office by Sowetan.