Court clears Nkonyeni of all charges

CONFIDENT: KwaZulu-Natal MEC for health Peggy Nkonyeni outside the Pietermaritzburg magistrate's court yesterday. Circa 01/2009. © Sowetan. Pic. Thuli Dlamini.
CONFIDENT: KwaZulu-Natal MEC for health Peggy Nkonyeni outside the Pietermaritzburg magistrate's court yesterday. Circa 01/2009. © Sowetan. Pic. Thuli Dlamini.

THE National Prosecuting Authority has withdrawn charges of fraud and corruption against KwaZulu-Natal speaker Neliswa "Peggy" Nkonyeni and her co-accused.

State prosecutor Hein van der Merwe told the Pietermaritzburg regional court yesterday that charges against the accused were withdrawn but would not give reasons.

The matter was heard by magistrate Chris van Vuuren.

Charges against Nkonyeni and her co-accused, businessman Lindelihle Mkhwanazi, 38, and health department supply chain manager Mduduzi Ntshangase, 44, related to the purchase of a cancer screening machine at inflated prices.

It was alleged that the provincial health department had purchased an ultrasound cancer screening machine at the inflated price of R1,5million.

It is claimed the machine could have been bought for R425000. The incident allegedly took place while Nkonyeni was the province's MEC for health.

The machine was allegedly supplied by Mkhwanazi's Rowmoor Investments. It was also alleged that Nkonyeni had received kickbacks for influencing officials in the department to buy the machine.

Nkonyeni's attorney Larry Seethal said it was about time for the NPA to withdraw the charges.

"My client has suffered for two years. We have been vindicated because we had said it from the beginning that there was no evidence but they opted to continue," he said.

There were scenes of jubilation outside the court after the charges were dropped. The court had earlier been packed with ANC supporters and members of the Traditional Healers Association.

ANC provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala said the decision was "good news, a delight and a celebration. As the ANC we feel vindicated."

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