File picture: Pexels
File picture: Pexels

Free State officials accused of corruption of R245m out on R10K bail

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published Aug 18, 2020

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Johannesburg - The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) says five Free State government officials who were arrested for corruption and money laundering worth R245 million, have been released on R10 000 bail each.

The officials, who were employed at the Free State department of agriculture and rural development, have been named as Lerato Mngomezulu (39), Disebo Masiteng (59), Mokemane Ndumo (52), Mahlomola Mofokeng (55) and Mbana Thabethe (54).

They were granted bail on Tuesday after appearing in the Bloemfontein Regional Court following their arrest on Monday.

"The first four were members of the bid evaluation committee, and Thabethe was the head of the department," the NPA said.

The officials have been arrested in connection with funds paid to a company called Rekgonne Community Projects. The company was awarded contracts irregularly. The alleged corruption was unravelled during the Hawks' investigation of banking accounts in the Estina dairy farm project matter.

"It is alleged that they gave a number of contracts to a company called Superior Quality Trading, which also trade as Rekgonne Community Projects, even though this company did not attend compulsory briefing sessions. The company also had a certificate of attendance even though it was not present at the compulsory briefing where these certificates were issued. The department is said to have paid more than R756m to the company.

"It is further alleged that the director of Superior Quality Trading, Lenah Mohapi (55), paid huge sums of money into the account of Seipati Dlamini (49), who was the chief financial officer (CFO) of the department at the time. These payments were disguised as Refund Telkomsa and Medical services," the NPA said in a statement on Tuesday.

Dlamini and Mohapi were arrested in July and her next appearance in court is scheduled for September 10.

"The five will be joining the others in September at the high court and will collectively face 58 counts of forgery, uttering, fraud, corruption, money laundering and contraventions of PFMA," the NPA said.

Dlamini was scheduled to appear before the Zondo commission last week to answer to corruption allegations related to the Estina matter.

She has been in quarantine and her appearance has been postponed to a later date.

Meanwhile, Thabethe, who had previously served as head of the Free State department of agriculture, had appeared several times at the Zondo commission and faced questions regarding his handling of the Estina contract which was awarded to a Gupta-liked company.

The Vrede dairy farm project was allocated over R200 million by the Free State government. Only 2% of the funds were allocated to the project and none of the small farmers who were meant to benefit saw any of the funds.

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