The High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday dismissed an application by veteran musician and producer Arthur Mafokate to have his property, a luxury guest house, released from a preservation order.
On December 21, 2022, the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) obtained an order to preserve the property situated at 85 Carslwald Road in Midrand.
Mafokate is the sole director of 999 Music, according to Lumka Mahanjana, Gauteng regional spokesperson for the NPA.
“This followed investigations conducted by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) into the National Lotteries Commission (NLC), which revealed that the South African Arts and Development Organisation (SAADA) was granted R9.3 million to assist unemployed youth in the poor and rural areas of the country, to impact skills in music, business video, film production, dance, and the overall business of radio,” according to Mahanjana.
Instead, the SAADA, under the control of Mafokate, only used R1.8 million of those funds on the project and used the remaining funds, R7.5 million, to purchase a luxurious guest house known as La Villa Rosa in Midrand.
“In court, Mafokate argued that he was entitled to the R7.5 million as his businesses delivered the services as required by the NLC and that he had committed no offences.
“However, the NPA argued that although some kind of services were rendered, it was at most R1.8 million. The remainder of the funds were used to purchase the guest house, which was not the purpose of the grant allocation,” said Mahanjana.
The NPA insists the funds used to purchase the guest house were stolen from the NLC, as the money was not used for the allocated project.
“The court agreed with the NPA that it was against the terms and conditions of the grant for SAADA to carry over its obligations to any other organisation and that SAADA should have also returned any unused funds to the NLC,” said Mahanjana.
“The court also found that Arthur Mafokate could give no reasonable explanation on how he could afford to purchase the guest house if it were not for NLC funds, particularly as his business accounts contained negligible balances when the grant was received from the NLC.
“Therefore, the court dismissed, with costs, the application of Arthur Mafokate to have the guest house released from the preservation order,” she said.
Meanwhile, Director of Public Prosecutions in Gauteng, Advocate Sibongile Mzinyathi, has welcomed the investigation conducted by the SIU on the matter, “which illustrates the effectiveness of law enforcement agencies working together to eradicate corruption”.
Mzinyathi also welcomes the judgment delivered on Tuesday, “as it demonstrates the NPA’s continuous fight against corruption at the highest level”.
“This judgment paves the way for the AFU to enrol the matter for the final forfeiture of the guest house and all the other luxury properties worth millions of rand purchased with stolen NLC funds,” said Mzinyathi.
“Should the forfeiture application be successful, the guest house will be sold at a public auction and the proceeds returned to the NLC.”
Last year, IOL reported that the High Court in Gauteng had granted an order to freeze five properties linked to an ongoing investigation into fraud at the National Lotteries Commission.
The order grants the NPA’s Authority’s Asset Forfeiture Unit and the Special Investigating Unit permission to freeze three luxury properties, a plot, and a portion of a farm that are linked to siphoning off lotteries grant funding meant for community development projects.
The SIU said the SAADA, under the directorship of Mafokate, applied for grant funding to assist unemployed youth in poor and rural areas of the country to impart skills in music, business, video, film production, dance, and the business of radio in South Africa.