Happy ending in tale of minister Mahlobo, massage parlour and rhino horn trade?

Ian_rhinoWill State Security Minister David Mahlobo get his comeuppance following an Al Jazeera report of his alleged involvement with players in the illegal rhino horn trade? Mahlobo has been known to be so protective of President Jacob Zuma in the past that the President’s security details have bordered on the paranoid. However, with the controversial Hawks squad set on the Mahlobo couple to probe links to the smuggling of rhino horns to China, it seems likely that Mahlobo is no longer in Zuma’s inner circle. The Hawks were recently in the spotlight after being called in to investigate spurious charges – subsequently dropped following public pressure – against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Mahlobo, unlike Gordhan, is unlikely to have many sympathisers. The rhino is a much-loved endangered creature, so public sentiment will be against him, and Mahlobo’s extra-mural interests and friendships don’t appear to feature the Gupta family – which presumably puts paid to any special support from Zuma’s clique. Mahlobo was the laughing stock among Parliamentarians this week, with some accusing him of “massaging the truth” and others urging him to enjoy his “happy ending” – references to his claims he was at a spa rather than working with criminals. Mahlobo’s predecessor Siyabonga Cwele also had the stench of crime hanging over him. His wife, Sheryl, went to jail in connection with drug trafficking, while Cwele – reportedly oblivious to his wife’s deeds – was redeployed and is currently Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services. Mahlobo, meanwhile, has denied any wrongdoing in the rhino horn underworld and has threatened to take legal action against Al Jazeera for sullying his good name. With court hearings the ideal place to test allegations, Mahlobo needs to be sure of all the facts – including his wife’s activities – before taking that route. – Jackie Cameron

By Thulani Gqirana

Cape Town – Days after claiming to know student leader Mcebo Dlamini “very well”, State Security Minister David Mahlobo has done an about-turn on the extent of the relationship.

Mahlobo was answering questions in the National Assembly on Wednesday when he was asked to clarify his relationship with Dlamini.

State Security Minister David Mahlobo. Photo courtesy of Twitter @STROOP_film

This follows reports in the Mail & Guardian that Mahlobo had said the student leader had been to his house a number of times.

Mahlobo made the comments while speaking at a panel discussion hosted by the Institute of Security Studies on Monday, November 14.

In a video of the event, posted on November 14 by a Daily Vox journalist, Mahlobo says he is not responsible for Dlamini’s arrest.

He was arrested by the police, he said.

“But I happen to know Mcebo, he has been to my house several times,” he said, before calling for the country to let the courts deal with the matter.

Security threat

But on Wednesday, the minister said newspaper reports should not be quoted as facts.

“Mcebo Dlamini has never been to my house. That meeting never took place,” the minister said on Wednesday, before cautioning against an “agenda by some MPs who took joy” in the student struggles.

Ousted Wits University SRC president, with Vice Chancellor Adam Habif, left. Picture: Twitter
Former Wits University SRC president Mcebo Dlamini, with Vice Chancellor Adam Habib, left. Picture: Twitter

It was not a great day in Parliament for Mahlobo, who was told by MPs that he needed to take a leave of absence until the cloud hanging over his head was dealt with.

The minister was told he was a threat to the security of the country, while some MPs poked fun at his massage parlour visits.

One MP said Mahlobo was working hard for his “massage parlour slush funding, I hope you have a happy ending”.

He was also told he seemed to be an expert at massaging answers and another MP said they hoped he would go to a massage parlour after the hard work session on Wednesday.

Bribery claims

The minister also told Parliament on Wednesday that he would not resign from his job, and called on anyone with evidence of his wrongdoing to come forward.

In a recent Al Jazeera documentary a self-confessed criminal named Guan Jiang Guang, who is also allegedly involved in a rhino poaching syndicate, openly brags about bribing South African justice and immigration officials.

Video secretly recorded by an undercover investigator shows Guan – a “businessman” and massage parlour owner in Mbombela swiping through photographs on his phone that appear to show him and Mahlobo.

“He came to my massage parlour every week, or at least twice a month,” Guan says. “I know him well…[He was] a guest at my home.” – News24

Source: http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/mcebo-who-mahlobo-backtracks-on-relationship-with-student-leader-20161117

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