Former ANC MP Vincent Smith intends pleading not guilty at corruption trial

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Former ANC MP Vincent Smith is out on R30,000 bail after making a brief appearance at the Palm Ridge Magistrates Court on Thursday afternoon. Smith handed himself over to authorities over allegations linking him to corruption between senior political figures and Bosasa.

JOHANNESBURG – Former African National Congress (ANC) Member of Parliament (MP) Vincent Smith has told the Palm Ridge Magistrates Court that he intended on pleading not guilty to all the charges against him.

Smith appeared on charges of fraud and corruption on Thursday.

He appeared before the State Capture Commission earlier this year where he was questioned about R800,000 he received from facilities group Bosasa.

His dealings with Bosasa were exposed by the company’s former chief operations officer Angelo Agrizzi who is also his co-accused.

Smith’s lawyer Nthabiseng Mokoena read his client’s affidavit at the bail hearing.

She said he intended on denying all the allegations against him.

“I deny the aforesaid allegations in the strongest terms and I intend to plead not guilty in the envisaged trial.”

Smith’s company, Euro Blitz 48 – through which he allegedly accepted the money from Bosasa – has also been listed as an accused.

The court heard that the third accused, Agrizzi, could not appear in court on Thursday as he was in hospital.

He is expected in court at the next appearance later this month.

SMITH ARREST AVOIDS ANC FACTIONAL MELTDOWN

The arrest of Smith, along with those expected to follow, is seen as a fundamental disruption to South African politics.

Analysts said the former MP being nabbed showed neutrality in the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) approach to corruption and should be seen as a lesson for all South Africans who believed some of the “new dawn” politicians were beyond reproach.

Smith was granted R30,000 bail in the Palm Ridge Magistrates Court after handing himself over to the police on Thursday morning.

While pressure continues to build for more politicians to be brought to book by law enforcement agencies, numerous African National Congress (ANC) leaders – including Nomvula Mokonyane, Ace Magashule and Zizi Kodwa – have been implicated at the inquiry sitting before Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

The arrest of Smith has been seen as smart, as it avoids a political meltdown of ANC factions.

University of Pretoria’s Dr Sthembile Mbete said: “That the independent directorate, the NPA, have been able to act independently on their own time to build up a case that they think is strong, I think is good that there doesn’t seem to be any kind of direction, externally, from senior parts of the ANC.”

University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Lukhona Mguni said warnings from African National Congress Women’s League President Bathabile Dlamini that all ANC leaders had “smaller-nyana skeletons” rang true.

Even for politicians like Smith who attempted to position themselves as clean.

“He was first to the buzzer to say ‘I will reinvent myself to be relevant to the new dawn’, kante unfortunately the ghost of the past.”

Smith is due back in court on 14 October.

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