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'Deny Mshengu bail, he'll abuse it'

Mpumalanga businessman Sam Chabalala faces new charges of bribery.
Mpumalanga businessman Sam Chabalala faces new charges of bribery.
Image: Thulani Mbele

Notorious Mpumalanga businessman Sam "Mshengu" Chabalala has undermined the processes of justice, according to a state prosecutor.

Advocate Eric Sehlangu on Friday made a plea to the Middelburg magistrate's court not to release Chabalala on bail.

Sehlangu said Chabalala was not a suitable candidate to be granted bail as he was
arrested for allegedly committing the same offences that he was out on bail for.

Chabalala appeared on charges of corruption and bribery after he was allegedly caught bribing a senior SAPS member to release a vehicle that was confiscated from him when he was arrested last year.

He allegedly also bribed the officer to make the docket in relation to that case disappear.

Chabalala will hear today whether he will be granted bail on this matter.

"It would not be in the interest of justice for the courts to permit the accused release on bail. He was arrested for offences related to the offences he was out on bail for.

"This would be undermining the processes of justice," Sehlangu said.

He said Chabalala's release would jeopardise the strength of the case in court as he had the "propensity to interfere with investigations".

"We acknowledge that bail does not serve to punish a suspect, but if the court grants him bail, what will stop him from committing these offences again? The only [way] to guarantee that [he doesn't repeat the offences] is to not grant him bail," he said.

Sehlangu read into the record an affidavit made by the senior police officer, Brig Obet Ngwenya, who is attached to the serious organised crime unit.

Ngwenya alleged that Chabalala called him on his mobile and told him who he was.

"The conversation, I suspected that he wanted to corrupt me. He told me that he would give me R50, 000 to give him his Mercedes Benz pick-up bakkie with registration Sam 26," Ngwenya said in his affidavit. He said this amount was given to him on January 12 and he informed his superiors who organised an entrapment operation.

"He said he would gather more money for me to make his case disappear and suggested that he would give me R200,000 in total for it. But he gave me R72,600 and said he would give me the rest at a later stage. But he was arrested at a hotel after he handed over the money. He was also in possession of a further R22,000."

At the time of his recent 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 and illegal entry into SA among others.

His lawyer, Hlau Maluleke, told the court the 25-year-old's pending case had no consequence on his recent arrest and that the court should not take it into account when coming to its conclusion on his bail application.

"My client attends court proceedings diligently and does not miss his appearances. He has no reason to flee as he has strong family and business ties in Bethal," Maluleke said.

He said that Chabalala's business had 63 trucks delivering coal to Eskom plants in Mpumalanga. Maluleke further pleaded with the court to grant his client R5,000 bail.

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