The National Assembly had a debate on the VBS Mutual Bank report, entitled The Great Bank Heist, on Tuesday.
The report, compiled by advocate Terry Motau and Werksmans Attorneys, was released two weeks ago and contained allegations relating to the looting of R1,8 billion from the bank.
It found that large deposits from municipalities, as “investments” with VBS, were the result of a concerted and deliberate campaign undertaken by VBS executives and involved the payment of bribes to various public officials who were “in a position to influence the making of such deposits”.
The names of the ANC’s provincial Deputy Chairperson in Limpopo Florence Radzilani and Provincial Treasurer Danny Msiza were among the 53 mentioned in the report.
Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Zweli Mkhize said he “strongly condemned the wanton fraud displayed in this saga”.
“We all agree this should never have happened.”
He agreed that it was a case of the greedy stealing from the poor and said he was concerned about service delivery in the affected municipalities.
Mkhize said bribery and fraud were crimes and the police should make arrests and bring those implicated to book.
Mkhize added that, in some instances, action had already been taken against some officials.
The CFO of the Greater Giyani Municipality and the Municipal Manager and CFO of the Vhembe Municipality have been suspended.
ANC MP Thandi Tobias asked for the debate.
She said VBS put themselves on a path of self-destruction.
“We call on the Hawks and the [National Prosecuting Authority] to act swiftly against those who are implicated in the looting of VBS,” she said.
She also expressed her dismay at auditing firm KPMG.
DA MP Kevin Mileham referred to the bribery of municipal managers, CFOs and mayors, and referred to the role of Msiza and Radzilani.
“94 VBS staff members have been retrenched. But they aren’t the guilty parties. No, the bloodsucking leeches and parasites that have fed off of the savings of some of our country’s poorest citizens must be held accountable,” he said.
“Speaker, the VBS heist was blatant in its audacity, but completely unsophisticated in its implementation. It was little more than a giant pyramid scheme, which saw some R1,2 billion of municipal funds disappear, never to be seen again.”
Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota said it smacked of hypocrisy that the ANC initiated the debate.
“The once proud liberation movement is now compromised and corrupted beyond redemption,” he said.
DA MP David Maynier described the debate as “a desperate attempt to divert attention away from the role of the governing party in the ‘grand bank heist’ at VBS Mutual Bank”.
Maynier said despite the report saying the looting was hidden from view, “the fact that VBS was taking illegal deposits from municipalities was known and was in the public domain from at least 14 October 2016, which is more than a year before VBS Mutual Bank was placed under curatorship”.
“That is why we need an independent inquiry into the action taken by the National Treasury and the South African Reserve Bank after they became aware that municipalities were making illegal deposits at VBS Mutual Bank,” he said.
ACDP MP Steve Swart said his party was “shocked and appalled at the brazen fraud” at VBS.
He agreed that there should be consequences, but lamented that the Special Investigations Unit and Hawks were overworked.
“We need to accept responsibility for a lack of oversight as Parliament,” he said.
ANC MP Yunus Carrim said it was not just the allegations of the wholesale plunder that hit him, it was also the brazenness.
“We want to deal with corruption decisively,” he said. “That’s why we’re having this debate.”
He said if they didn’t have the debate, they would have been accused of not dealing with it.
“We as the ANC have often been accused of being tardy on allegations of corruption within our ranks. But we have acted very swiftly this time.”
He said some people have said the ANC looted VBS.
“How? Bring the evidence to Luthuli House. Bring it to the chief whip,” he said.
“Where has the ANC told people to loot?”
– News24 Wire