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NPA Clamps Down on DRC Diplomat’s Illicit Assets in South Africa

Published April 03, 2024
2 months ago

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) of South Africa has made a significant strike against corruption and fraud within the international defense procurement sector. The NPA’s specialized Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) was granted a preservation order to attach properties worth approximately R43 million belonging to Brigadier Ngoy Timothee Makwamba, previously serving as the Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC) defence attaché to South Africa.

This decisive legal action stems from criminal allegations against Makwamba in the DRC, where he faces charges of fraud and theft. These charges are linked to a substantial refund from the South African state-owned defense conglomerate Denel, which Makwamba is accused of illegally rerouting to two personal bank accounts. The funds were purportedly utilized to secure four residential properties.

In a legal victory for the NPA, the Pretoria High Court granted the preservation order on March 11. Following this, the AFU, accompanied by the appointed curator, has executed the order by serving it at the four properties located in strategic and affluent areas, including two in Pretoria, one in Centurion, and another in Northcliff, Johannesburg. Additionally, two Nedbank accounts linked to Makwamba, one containing R35 million and another with R224,000, have been restrained.

Lumka Mahanjana, the NPA spokesperson, outlined the case's background. Makwamba's original mandate from the DRC Ministry of Defence entailed procurement dealings with the Denel Group. Following an unsuccessful transaction involving a payment of R49.6 million from the DRC embassy to Denel, the defense company arranged a refund. Contrary to his obligations and after his dismissal, Makwamba deceitfully continued to represent himself as a legitimate agent of the DRC, redirecting the refund into bank accounts controlled by him.

This incident came to light when the Financial Intelligence Centre traced the money flow, which revealed the dubious transactions leading to the property purchases. These properties were subsequently registered under various names, including Makwamba's children and other individuals from the DRC.

With the assets now secured under a curator bonis, the AFU aims to advance to the next legal phase, which is obtaining a final forfeiture order. If successful, the properties will be auctioned publicly, with the proceeds being remitted back to the DRC government, fulfilling the NPA’s commitment to thwarting the misuse of public funds and deterring financial crimes linked to international relations.

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