The Pretoria high court has set aside the adverse findings against African National Congress (ANC) Limpopo Treasurer Danny Msiza contained in The Great Bank Heist investigative report on the VBS Mutual Bank scandal.
The report was prepared by Advocate Terry Motau and commissioned by the Prudential Authority of South Africa in 2018.
In a ruling handed down on Tuesday, Judge Tlhapi J. also found that Motau’s failure to afford Msiza the right to procedural fairness prior to releasing the report was “unlawful and unconstitutional and violated [Msiza’s] right in terms of section 34 of the Constitution.”
Motau’s report alleged that Msiza used his political influence to convince Limpopo mayors and municipal officials to “invest” hundreds of millions of rand in VBS.
It also claimed that ANC Limpopo Deputy Chairperson, Florence Radzilani, allegedly received R300,000 from VBS directors after Vhembe municipality deposited money there when she was the mayor. Both denied the allegations and “stepped aside” from their ANC positions for almost two years.
In his application, Msiza contended that the report’s claims that he was a VBS “kingpin” and that he had used his political influence were false. He said he had suffered “serious repetitional damage” as a result of the report’s findings.
Reacting to the ruling on Tuesday, Msiza told SABC News that he was “humbled” by the outcome. “There is a deep sense of relief. I always maintained my innocence and always conducted myself as an ethical businessman,” he said.
The ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) recently decided to reinstate Msiza and Radzilani, but said it would conduct “consultations” with various stakeholders first.
This was despite a recommendation by the party’s Integrity Commission that the two senior provincial officials should remain suspended until they cleared their names. The court ruling is likely to bolster the case for their immediate reinstatement.
The ANC’s alliance partners – labour federation COSATU and the SA Communist Party (SACP) – have strongly opposed any reinstatements “without due process clearing their names.”
The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (Hawks) arrested eight suspects, many of them former VBS officials, in June on charges of racketeering, theft, fraud, corruption and money laundering.
The Limpopo-based VBS was placed in liquidation by the high court in November 2018 after it collapsed following alleged looting of around R2 billion deposited into it.