Mr X's identity is being protected as he fears for his life because of the evidence he has decided to disclose at the state capture inquiry. Screengrab
Mr X's identity is being protected as he fears for his life because of the evidence he has decided to disclose at the state capture inquiry. Screengrab

Mr X explains how his company helped transfer thousands defrauded from Mhlathuza Water

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published Feb 18, 2020

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Johannesburg - The Zondo commission has heard how thousands of rands were transferred illegally in a scheme to defraud state-owned water supply company Mhlathuze Water. 

A man being identified at the commission as Mr X took the stand for a second day on Tuesday. His identity is being protected as he fears for his life because of the evidence he has decided to disclose at the state capture inquiry. Mr X testified in IsiZulu through an interpreter. 

Mr X is the owner of Isibonelo Construction, a Richards Bay-based construction company, which had done work with Mhlathuze Water. Mhlathuze is an SOE that provides water to a few areas in KwaZulu-Natal. 

Mr X explained that he was approached by a project manager at Mhlathuze Water, Mboniseni Majola, who asked to use Isibonelo's banking facilities to move funds from Mhlathuze Water. 

He told the commission that he was reluctant, but assumed Majola knew better than him so he agreed to assist. The scheme functioned in the following manner; several engineering companies that had contracts with Mhlathuze Water would deposit various amounts into Isibonelo's bank account. Majola had drawn up invoices which falsely claimed that Isibonelo had provided services for these payments. 

Once the engineering companies had paid Isibonelo, Mr X said he would inform Majola. Majola would later provide a piece of paper with account numbers that Mr X would be instructed to transfer the deposited funds into. 

"When the money is deposited I would be notified on my phone and then I would call him and tell him that the money has been deposited in my account. I would then wait for further instructions on what I should do with the money," Mr X recalled.

One such example of how the alleged scheme would operate involved a KZN-based engineering company Klomac Engineering. Isibonelo had received a deposit of R2,94 million from Klomac in January 2015. Once the funds were deposited, Mr X was instructed to transfer the money into a bank account of a company called Sifezakonkhe Engineering LTD. Sifezakonkhe received a deposit of R150 000 in February 2015 and R850 000 later in the same month. The same company also received an R1 million payment. These were the funds that were originally deposited from Klomac Engineering.

Mr X explained that Isibonelo had never had business dealings with Klomac Engineering and that the invoices that were drawn up justifying the deposits were fake. 

This evidence is contrary to an affidavit submitted by Klomac Engineering to the Zondo commission. The company insists that it had paid Isibonelo because the company was a subcontractor with Mhlathuze Water and this was part of a normal process. 

Mr X disputed parts of Klomac's version. He explained that he had promised to be appointed as a subcontractor for Mhlathuze Water, but he had never signed anything that proved that this was true. 

Klomac Engineering had deposited R872 000, on April 17, 2015, into Isibonelo's account. The invoice for this transaction stated that Isibonelo was being paid for installing lifts for Klomac. Mr X said this invoice was false as his company had never performed such a service for Klomac. 

The inquiry continues.

IOL

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