The R400 million SA Express tender fraud case is set for trial.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said a pre-trial conference was set for January 24, 2024.
"A date of May 13, 2024, was also set for trial," said NPA spokesperson in the North West division, Henry Mamothame.
"The court ordered for the State and the defence attorneys to exchange further particulars relating to the case. Further to that, the state should respond to Mohlokoleng’s intended submission of representations, as indicated by his attorney, before the set pre-trial date," he said.
Tebogo Van Wyk, 40; Nothando Dube, 44; Sipho Levy Phiri, 39; Thabang Mohlokoleng, 54; and three companies, Batsamai Investment Holdings, Sevilex Investment Holdings, and Lavao, Estevao (PTY) Ltd, appeared at the North West High Court in Mmabatho on Monday.
The case follows their arrest by the North West Hawks Serious Corruption Investigation in September 2022 on 34 counts, including fraud, corruption, money laundering, and contravention of the Public Finance Management Act.
"The office of the national director of public prosecutions has also authorised more charges of racketeering to be added and for the matter to be centralised, as some offences were committed in the jurisdiction of the Gauteng local division," Mamothame said.
The investigations revealed that in 2014, the North West government embarked on a process to reintroduce commercial aircraft to the province’s two airports, Mahikeng and Pilanesberg, on a subsidy estimated at R400 million.
The amount of R183 million was then paid to SA Express between 2015 and 2017, for the services rendered by the ground management companies, which Van Wyk, Dube, and Phiri are linked to.
The State alleges that of the R83 million, an amount of R51 million was channelled irregularly through the charged companies.
The North West government allegedly appointed SA Express as a service provider, to render the service, but this was done without following the proper supply chain management processes.
The irregularly secured agreement is said to have been signed by the four accused. Mohlokoleng signed on behalf of the department of transport as the then accounting officer, in his capacity as the head of the department.
The deal was allegedly riddled with procurement irregularities, and money was paid for services not rendered.
All the companies appointed to do the ground handling services were indirectly owned by Dube and Phiri.
"The irregularities prejudiced the North West government of millions of rands that could have been directed to service delivery. The case was recommended for investigation by the Zondo Commission, and the DPCI (Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation) will continue the investigations as recommended. This will be conducted in phases, with a possibility of more arrests being effected."
Van Wyk was granted R500,000 bail, Dube R35,000, Phiri R150,000, and Mohlokoleng R50,000.
Their bail conditions are that they should not evade court on their next appearance, refrain from interfering with witnesses, and inform the investigating officer should they wish to leave their area of residence.