Millions stolen 'for ANC elders'

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philemon Mohlahlane (30398214)

Etienne Creux

Former Land Bank chief executive Phil Mohlahlane claimed that he wanted to donate part of his alleged R32.5 million Land Bank loot to sponsor the ANCs 2007 national conference and also pay for the retirement packages of senior ruling party leaders. File photo by Etienne Creux.

Pretoria - Former Land Bank chief executive Phil Mohlahlane claimed that he wanted to donate part of his alleged R32.5 million Land Bank loot to sponsor the ANC’s 2007 national conference and also pay for the retirement packages of senior ruling party leaders.

This is according to the State’s charge sheet in the corruption case against the controversial Mohlahlane, who was also fired as head of a Limpopo agriculture parastatal for forged qualifications.

One of the former accused in the case, Khutso Masoma, has now turned State witness and will testify against Mohlahlane and his co-accused, former Gauteng Housing MEC Dan Mofokeng. The case is being heard in the Commercial Crimes Court in Pretoria.

The two are accused of fraud, corruption and money laundering involving R26.5m.

Mohlahlane is also accused in another case involving fraud worth R6m.

Former AgriBEE fund manager Masoma is expected to reveal details of the Babagolo (sePedi for elders) scheme when the case goes to trial.

The scheme, according to the prosecution, was Mohlahlane’s financial ploy to create the impression that it was a funding vehicle for the ruling party.

In the latest charge sheet, the prosecution explains how Mohlahlane – who has been painted as the kingpin – allegedly implicated the ANC in a massive fraud.

Mohlahlane is alleged to have “instructed” Masoma to arrange for large sums of money to be paid into the trust account of Matuba Maponya Attorneys for non-existent projects.

“Accused number 1 [Mohlahlane] presented to Mr K Masoma that a farm, Deeside… in the district of Bela Bela should be bought for Babagolo.

“The meaning of Babagolo, as referred to by [Mohlahlane], included the concept that money should be used to provide for exit packages or pensions for senior ANC government officials,” the charge sheet reads.

Eventually, R19m went into Maponya’s trust account between October and December 2007 under the guise of Babagolo, the State argues.

The money was allegedly used to buy several properties and a Volvo worth R480 000 through the companies owned by Mohlahlane and Mofokeng.

Masoma is also expected to testify that he helped Mohlahlane cheat a legitimate project of R4m from the R6m Land Bank allocation in October 2007.

“After the approval but before the payment was made [Mohlahlane] indicated to Mr Masoma that he wanted [R4m] of this money for Babagolo and to partly sponsor the ANC conference that was to be held in Polokwane [in 2007],” the charge sheet reads.

Mohlahlane also wanted his sister appointed on the farm with a monthly salary of R17 000, the charge sheet says.

Eventually the dairy farming project ran short of funds, and it asked for a bailout. Maponya released R1m – but Mohlahlane allegedly “demanded” R250 000 “for arranging the transfer”, the State says.

The funds were allegedly transferred to several entities, including:

* In January 2008 another R3.5m was paid to Maponya’s account which ended up in the account of Nhzelele Resources, a company where Mofokeng was a director;

* Half a million ended up in the bank account of Madlela Attorneys. The State does not know what the payment was for;

* R2.2m was used to buy a house in Pretoria where Mohlahlane eventually lived; and

* The rest of the money paid for quadbikes, a bakkie and a Mercedes.

Asked to comment on what the payment was for, Pleasure Mashamba of Madlela Gwebu Mashamba Attorneys said he would not comment on a case which was still before court.

The firm boasts on its website that its clients include the ANC’s controversial investment arm, Chancellor House. “For the record I do not have any instructions from any of our clients in our law firm to discuss their matters with third parties, including the press,” he said.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said he was not aware of any donations or a scheme established to bankroll the party.

“Mohlahlane was never an official of the ANC. He cannot run schemes for the ANC when he is not an official or office bearer. If he had any arrangement with individuals, that is his problem,” he said.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the Hawks say there is no evidence that the money made its way to the |ANC’s coffers.

“The investigation revealed that no money was used for |the ANC conference and that there is no evidence that money was paid to any ANC politician as |an exit or retirement package,” NPA spokesman Medupe Simasiku said.

Hawks spokesman Paul Ramaloko said investigators believed “the false schemes |benefited the accused in person and cannot be linked to any |institution”.

On Saturday Mofokeng would not comment, saying “we will have our time to respond”.

“I don’t want to touch on that subject [the case].”

In court this week, prosecutor AJ van Rensburg said attorney Matuba Maponya had also turned State witness. He said Maponya’s statement “obviously had an impact on the charge sheet”.

Mohlahlane could not be reached for comment.

However, Mohlahlane’s lawyer André Steenkamp has questioned the late introduction of another witness.

He said Maponya’s statement was dated November 23, an indication that the state was “still busy with the investigation”.

Steenkamp appeared for Mohlahlane for the first time this week, and said he had yet to study the 15 000 page charge sheet.

Mofokeng’s lawyer, Lehlohonolo Adonisi said he was also uncertain whether he would be ready for trial by January.

“The State is insisting that they are ready. We are saying that they need to give us more information. That request emanates from us reading the docket,” he said.

Mohlahlane and Mofokeng remain out on a R40 000 bail.

dianne.hawker@inl.co.za

Sunday Independent


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