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Paul Ngobeni a fugitive from justice after all - David Maynier

DA MP says Public Protector's finding an indictment of Minister Lindiwe Sisulu

Public Protectors findings a massive indictment of Lindiwe Sisulu

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the finding of the investigation into the appointment of Paul Ngobeni - a fugitive from justice in the State of Connecticut in the United States - as a Special Adviser in the Ministry for Defence and Military Veterans.

The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Lindiwe Sisulu, employed Paul Ngobeni as a Special Advisor in the Ministry of Defence and Military Veterans in 2009. However, it later emerged that Paul Ngobeni was a fugitive from justice in the State of Connecticut. He was facing a series of criminal charges - including larceny, forgery and the illegal practice of law - in the State of Connecticut in the United States. 

I, therefore, approached the Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, to investigate the appointment of Paul Ngobeni.

The Public Protector released the report of the investigation, entitled "Fugitive or Not: Report of an Investigation into the Irregular Appointment of the Special Advisor to the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans" today.

The investigation found that Paul Ngobeni "is a fugitive from justice in the United States of America." The report finds that, although there was no contravention of any legislation, regulation or procedures in the appointment of Paul Ngobeni, "the vetting process was not sufficiently thorough as it did not go beyond his word and deal with his fugitive status".

The Public Protector's findings are a massive indictment of Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Lindiwe Sisulu. The fact is that the Minister refused point blank to investigate the allegations against Paul Ngobeni, even when she was confronted with evidence that he was a fugitive from justice in the United States. Rather than investigating the very serious allegations, the Minister did her level best to protect Paul Ngobeni. The Minister claimed, even after being presented with evidence to the contrary, for example, that: 

  • "Paul Ngobeni is a brilliant legal brain and I have no reason to question his integrity."(15 February 2010); and
  • "Special Advisor Dr Paul Ngobeni is not a fugitive from the law." (12 March 2010).

Why did the Minister sit on her hands and do nothing about the appointment of Paul Ngobeni? 

Why did she not order a ministerial review of Paul Ngobeni's appointment or at least order that Paul Ngobeni be re-vetted? The only conclusion one can draw is that the minister intended to provide a ministerial sanctuary for Paul Ngobeni who had been part of the legal team assisting President Jacob Zuma. 

Paul Ngobeni has thankfully now been crowbarred out of the Ministry of Defence and Military Veterans.

He resigned.

However, he remains a fugitive from justice in the United States.

The Division of Criminal Justice in the State of Connecticut confirmed yesterday that Paul Ngobeni is still considered a fugitive from justice in the State of Connecticut in the United States. 

His current status is "re-arrest ordered" for a series of criminal charges including larceny, forgery and the illegal practice of law as follows:

In the end, the fact is that the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Lindiwe Sisulu, appointed a fugitive from justice as her special advisor, and then refused to do anything about it, when she was confronted with evidence that Paul Ngobeni was a fugitive from justice in the United States.

Statement issued by David Maynier MP, DA Shadow Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, April 24 2012

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