JOHANNESBURG - The specialised commercial crimes court in Pretoria has convicted former Land Bank CEO Philemon Radichaba Mohlahlane and three others of defrauding the bank of at least R6 million in a case dating back to 2012.

The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, commonly known as the Hawks, said Mohlahlane conspired with Manyaba Rubben Mohlaloga, a former ANC MP and chairperson of parliament's portfolio committee on agriculture at the time and Dinga Rammy Nkhwashu and Dingamanzi Ka Dinga, both from law firm Masepula Dinga Attorneys, to transfer R6 million into the law firm's trust account from the bank in 2008.

They were arrested by the Hawks’ serious corruption crime unit in October 2012 after a case was opened in Pretoria.

'The funds were transferred from Agri-BEE,  a broad-based black economic empowerment framework intended to support of black South Africans to actively participate fully in the agricultural sector, Hawks spokesman Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said.

"This was done without following due processes as Mohlahlane subverted the procedures and instructed the fund manager at Agri-BEE to authorise the said payment without supporting the documents.'' 

The fund manager turned state witness and testified that an application for a R6 million grant to acquire land, livestock and processing units was done a month after the payment was transferred. 

The Hawks say, contrary to what the application stated, the money was never used to benefit farm workers or upcoming farmers, but rather for the personal benefit of the accused, who shared the cash among themselves.

They were all found guilty of fraud and money laundering in contravention of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act. Sentencing is set to start on March  8.

- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE