Clear and Present danger: The man who ruined the ANC's day
Luthuli House had a stressful day as one of its own was arrested and suspended for cash-in-transit heist 'links'
It was 5.46am when the bombshell dropped. It was a pre-dawn shock, courtesy of Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba, who lifted the lid on an ANC man being arrested in Soweto – allegedly for his links to cash-in-transit heists.
But at the time, Mashaba said that the man – who was among four men arrested during a raid in Dobsonville two weeks ago – was only “believed” to be employed at the ANC’s Luthuli House headquarters.
It was a comment that sparked rumours and speculation, the nation desperate to find out the name of the ANC man who was allegedly personally involved in at-gunpoint heists.
The rumour mill continued throughout the morning until the name became public: Errol Velile Present.
Less than five-and-a-half-hours after Mashaba’s statement, at 12.11pm, Luthuli House confirmed that one of its employees was indeed arrested. The party was, of course, “dismayed”.
The statement read: “The African National Congress is dismayed by the fact that one of its employees was arrested and appeared in court allegedly for involvement in serious crimes. Crime remains a serious cancer in our young democracy, and we must continue to fight it in whatever of its manifestations. We support the efforts by the law enforcement agencies to investigate, arrest and charge perpetrators to such high priority crimes.”
However – while it confirmed that it was “following its internal disciplinary policy for employees, and will ensure that appropriate action is taken” – it decided not to name Present, despite knowing that he had already appeared in court.But as media houses continued to name Present, Times Select started digging – and quickly found that his past was particularly shady.
In February 2017‚ the Sunday Times linked him to a controversial farm deal in Limpopo. The publication reported at the time that then-minister of Land Reform Gugile Nkwinti introduced this Luthuli House comrade‚ who was “shopping” for a thriving Limpopo farm‚ to one of his top officials at a land summit.
Just eight months after the meeting‚ Bekendvlei Farm was bought for R97-million and handed over to Present and his partner‚ businessman Moses Boshomane‚ to manage. Present had been working at Luthuli House for more than 10 years at the time.
A senior departmental official had prioritised the deal by bypassing required procedures. A day after the deal went through‚ Nkwinti was the speaker at Present’s lavish wedding.
Neither Present nor Boshomane had an ancestral claim to the farm. They also had no agricultural experience‚ the newspaper reported.
But back to the cash-in-transit case.
Police suspect that Present is linked to several cash-in-transit heists in North West, and a murder in Klerksdorp.
And just as this news was being digested, another bombshell – this one coming at 2.22pm, some nine-and-a-bit hours after the Mashaba statement that ruined the ANC’s day.
The ANC, the statement read, had fired Present on the spot. And this time, they named and shamed, and said it expected its members and employees to respect the law.The party said the allegations against Present were of a “serious nature that the organisation had to exercise rules provided for in the ANC Personnel Manual‚ terminating his service with immediate effect”.
The party will start disciplinary proceedings against him, they added. This is in his capacity as an ANC member.
And then, with Present behind bars and unable to remove his pictures from Facebook, his face became as public as his name. The icing was, literally, on the cake, as Present celebrates with a baked treat and an expensive-looking watch.
Present is expected to appear in court again later this month.