Top ANC man on theft, fraud charges

Crime & Courts

Pretoria - Senior ANC official Pule Mabe and his two co-accused appeared in the Specialised Commercial Crime Court in Pretoria on Friday on charges ranging from theft and money laundering to fraud.

They were arrested and locked up at Sunnyside police station for allegedly defrauding the South Africa Social Security Agency (Sassa) of about R2.25-million from the Social Responsibility Fund. The fund assists activities aimed at poverty alleviation and projects that improve lives.

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File photo: Senior ANC official Pule Mabe and his two co-accused appeared in the Specialised Commercial Crime Court in Pretoria on charges ranging from theft and money laundering to fraud. Picture: Dumisani Sibeko

The 33-year-old former ANC Youth League treasurer-general and current member of the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC), appeared with head of communications at Sassa, Paseka Letsatsi, and businessman Surprise Kabedi Ramosa, whose company lists “investments in all spheres of the sector” as the nature of its business.

Letsatsi went on voluntary special leave prior to his arrest on fraud charges, the agency said on Friday. “The CEO Virginia Petersen was made aware of the pending arrest by Mr Letsatsi himself on Wednesday,” said spokesman Kgomoco Diseko.

Investigations have revealed that they allegedly swindled Sassa of money totalling just over R2.25m, paid in three transfers of R627 000, R855 000 and R775 200. The money was allegedly paid to companies they had interests in or own, without following procedures and by using fraudulent means.

Most of the money was then transferred into two bank accounts owned by Mabe. The politician, businessman and trained journalist then paid several people, including family members, about R681 000 to his own personal account and other amounts to accounts owned by co-accused or their companies.

Most notable of these payments, as reflected in the court papers, is a R30 000 to his old friend, expelled former ANC Youth League spokesman Floyd Shivambu, who has since resurfaced with Julius Malema as new political kids on the block, the Economic Freedom Fighters. The charges followed an investigation by the state and centred on a letter submitted to Sassa in 2008 by the Consolidated Future Growth Fund and Investment Foundation.

In the letter, the foundation introduced the Progressive Young Women’s Co-operative as a trust established by young women to facilitate community development through outreach programmes and initiatives. Investigations later revealed no trust with that name was registered with the high court.

Attached to the letter were three invoices and a request for Sassa to pay to alleged service providers of the Consolidated Future Growth Fund and Investment Foundation the amounts of R627 000, R855 000 and R775 200.

However, according to the investigation, no proposals were submitted prior to the instruction and request for for payments as prescribed in terms of procedures regulating payments from the Sassa. In addition, no project assisting young women stated in the request for payment was registered. The project was not mentioned and no feedback was ever reported on the matter or the service it had rendered.

The administrator of payments at Sassa initially refused to pay without necessary documentation and processes, but Letsatsi allegedly faxed invoices and phoned for payments to be made, according to the State.

In the charge sheet, it is further stated that Letsatsi then wrote a memorandum requesting funding, which was approved by the chief executive of Sassa at the time, again without following proper procedures. In fact, the State has further alleged that none of the services indicated in the invoices, nor the memorandum that led to the payment, were rendered.

Mabe, who was elected to the NEC at the ANC conference in Mangaung in December 2012, and his co-accused were granted bail of R10 000 each.

They will return to the Specialised Commercial Crime Court on February 13 next year. - Pretoria News Weekend

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