Sam 'Mshengu' Chabalala asks for R5,000 bail

Sam 'Mshengu' Chabalala
Sam 'Mshengu' Chabalala
Image: Thulani Mbele

Flamboyant Mpumalanga businessman Sam “Mshengu” Chabalala has asked to be granted R5,000 bail in his latest corruption and bribery matter.

Chabalala was applying for bail in the Middleburg magistrate's court on Friday where he is facing two counts of corruption and bribery after he attempted to bribe a senior police officer to release his luxury vehicle and make a docket related to his other case disappear.

His lawyer, Hlau Maluleke, told the court that Chabalala could only afford to post R5,000 as a bail fee as his businesses were affected following his previous arrest in September last year.

“We do not know what his financial situation looks like at the moment and I have to meet with his auditor for me to get a better picture. But we request the court to set bail at R5,000,” Maluleke said.

He told the court that Chabalala had investments worth R40m and earned a monthly salary of approximately R200,000 from his businesses.

Chabalala was arrested on January 13 after he allegedly attempted to bribe a senior police official in Mpumalanga to get his impounded motor vehicle released and also to make his initial case disappear. His matter was postponed to February 24 when judgment on his bail application is expected to be handed down.

The 25-year-old appeared relaxed as he interacted with his lawyer in between court proceedings.

“The suspect paid R50,000 as a down payment and on Thursday [January 13] he added a further R70,000 for the release of his vehicle and the Nelspruit docket to disappear,” Hawks spokesperson Brig Hangwani Mulaudzi said.

He said processes to forfeit the R120,000 and the luxury vehicle the suspect was using during the commission of the alleged crime are already under way.

At the time of his arrest, Chabalala was out on R200,000 bail which was granted to him in the Witbank magistrate’s court last year where he is facing charges of corruption, illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition, illegal entry, departing and remaining in the borders of South Africa, and providing false information to be granted entry into the country.

At the time, magistrate Mdumiseni Mavuso said the state’s allegation that Chabalala was a dangerous individual could not be proven. “The state did not give details on why it claimed that the applicant is dangerous,” Mavuso said. “Based on the evidence his [Chabalala] lawyers presented, it seems as if he has strong family and business ties in South Africa. There is no evidence he has family outside the borders of the Republic and it is unknown if he has business and family ties outside of South Africa.”

Chabalala was arrested by the Hawks’ serious commercial crime investigation team at an eatery in eMalahleni, Mpumalanga, after he allegedly paid home affairs officials a bribe to stop a probe into how he obtained his SA citizenship.

Mshengu, as he is popularly known, shot to national prominence in July 2019 when he took a 72-car convoy to the annual Durban July horse-racing event. Pictures of his convoy of expensive cars went viral on social media. Most of them had personalised number plates with the name “Sam” on them.

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