Senior official in Free State found guilty of corruption and flouting Public Finance Act

By Ntombi Nkosi Time of article published Nov 25, 2021

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Ntombi Nkosi

MPHO Moses Mokoena, the former head of the Human Settlement department in the Free State, was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for corruption and five years for Contravention of the Public Finance Management Act, wholly suspended after he pleaded guilty in terms of Section 105.

Mokoena, 61, was sentenced yesterday at the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s court.

Magistrate Rashied Mathews sentenced Mokoena after he pleaded guilty to offences that took place in the 2010/2011 financial year.

In his plea, Mokoena stated the department advertised a tender in 2010 to build RDP houses for the community. The tender was, however, cancelled. The national Department of Human Settlements had allocated close to R1.4 billion to the provincial department for construction of low-cost housing in the Free State.

The department was expected to utilise the allocated funds in the same financial year for purposes they were allocated. The funds were to be withdrawn by the National Treasury if they were not used. The department failed to utilise the allocated budget for the 2010/2011 financial year and presented an expenditure recovery plan on how to use the allocated funds which was not in accordance with the business plan of the Free State Department of Human Settlements.

The minister and members of the Executive Council warned the department that their expenditure recovery plan was not accepted and the department was not permitted to use the balance of the allocated budget for the recovery plan, but the department went ahead and authorised the advance payment of at least R500 million worth of building equipment and material for projects that still had to commence.

“The State alleges the advance payment for equipment and materials formed part of a fraudulent scheme which was conceived by the officials in the department to disburse substantial sums of money to selected suppliers and contractors, in order to avoid the funds becoming an unspent conditional allocation,” National Prosecuting Authority provincial spokesperson Phaladi Shuping said.

Shuping said the national Department of Human Settlements and National Treasury had threatened that the unspent allocation would be returned to the National Revenue Fund, to be allocated to provinces with better spending records. In the face of that threat, the department proceeded to implement the scheme, disbursing more than R500 million from its conditional grant allocation over 2010/2011 financial year with no lawful cause for the payment.

Shuping said the contractors did not perform the construction work or only performed portions thereof. The suppliers did not supply materials to the department or supplied only a portion of materials.

“The suppliers were not entitled to receive payments where materials were not supplied and contractors should have not been paid for houses that were not built.

“Mokoena pleaded guilty to both counts and admitted that he failed to prevent unauthorised, irregular and fruitless expenditure and losses resulting from criminal conduct. He was sentenced to wholly suspended sentences on condition that he is not found guilty of similar offences during the period of suspension,” said Shuping.

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