Cape Town - A Zambian businessman accused of fraud was released on R50 000 bail on Friday when he appeared, soon after his arrest, in the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crimes Court in Cape Town.

Mukelabai Kerry Sishumba appeared before magistrate Sabrina Sonnenberg. Prosecutor Denver Combrink told the court that he and defence attorney Shaheid Schrueder agreed to the bail amount.

Sishumba, who faces 35 counts of fraud involving R1 704 891 and one violation of the Refugees Act, was not asked to plead and was warned to appear in court again on September 4.

According to the charge sheet, Sishumba was the sole director of Mosi-Oa-Tunya Engineering Group (MEG). Its main business was described as “electricity, gas, steam, and hot water supply”.

However, according to the charge sheet MEG was not registered with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission.

The charge sheet lists seven requirements and six principles to which MEG had to adhere to qualify as a service provider to the Western Cape provincial government. According to the charge sheet the allocation of projects to service providers was based on their status as previously disadvantaged individuals (PDI), and on the department's preferential procurement implementation plan (PPIP).

MEG was to render electrical engineering services to the transport and public works departments.

Sishumba allegedly falsely indicated that he had the necessary electrical engineering qualifications and that he had a number of qualified electrical engineers in his employ.

He allegedly falsely indicated that he was registered and in good standing with the various statutory bodies, as contemplated in the departmental prescripts.

The departments entrusted various projects to MEG on the basis that Sishumba, the engineers in his employ, and the company itself, had adhered to the PDI and PPIP requirements, and that Sishumba and his engineers were duly qualified.

There were apparently numerous complaints about Sishumba's poor workmanship, which triggered an internal investigation due to the “fruitless and wasteful” expenses the two departments incurred.

The investigation revealed that Sishumba had allegedly not adhered to the department's policies and principles.

Sishumba's alleged fraudulent pretence that he and his staff were qualified electrical engineers compromised the fairness and transparency of the procurement process. - Sapa