File photo: Reuters

Pretoria -

Two Tshwane municipality employees have pleaded guilty to charges of soliciting a R120 000 bribe from a businessman to have his water and electricity bill of R1.4 million written off.

The Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on Wednesday accepted the admission of guilt plea by Mongamola Ramaphakela and Matsobane Masekela.

The court ordered the pair to appear on May 6 for sentencing. Their bail terms were extended.

The crime carries a fine or imprisonment not exceeding 18 years, in terms of the law.

Ramaphakela and Masekela were arrested on December 13 while collecting the money from the Sunderland Ridge businessman. They had made an agreement for him to pay them the money.

In return, they would set aside his municipal account - which was in arrears - and replace it with a new one with a zero balance.

The pair’s lawyer, Ceasar Chiloane, told the court they admitted that they had committed the offence while being in the employment by the Tshwane Municipality.

Ramaphakela worked as a field technician and Masekela as an accounts administrator.

Weeks before their arrest, Ramaphakela went to the businessman’s premises to switch off his water and electricity as the accounts were in arrears.

The businessman asked him if he had connections in the municipality who could assist with a reduction of the bill.

He dialled Masekela’s number and gave the phone to the businessman, who made the deal with him. An arrangement was made for the businessman to raise the money and pay the two municipal workers.

On the day of the transaction, the two went back to the premises to collect the money and deliver the proof of cancelled accounts, but unknown to them, the man had informed the police.

Money totalling R120 000 had been photocopied and packaged neatly to be handed over to them.

The police were already on the premises, but were initially introduced as security guards.

As promised, the accused gave the businessman copies of his old water and electricity account, followed by a new one which reflected a zero balance.

Accompanied by the police, the businessman walked to the parking lot to hand over the money - which was in a plastic bag - to Ramaphakela and Masekela.

They were arrested on the spot and taken to Atteridgeville police station where they were charged.

The two stated in court papers they were aware that their actions were unlawful and punishable by law. They intended sharing the money and use if for their personal benefit, they said.

City of Tshwane spokesman Blessing Manale said the municipality was reassuring citizens that it was committed to clean governance. The council would take action against any official implicated in corrupt activities, regardless of their position within the City of Tshwane.

“This commitment has been amplified by mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa when he introduced a fraud and anti-corruption hotline, managed by KPMG to ensure neutrality and fairness,” Manale said.

The City of Tshwane anti-fraud and corruption hotline number is 080 874 9263.

Pretoria News