Former Unisa Prof Oludele Akinbode, who was sentenced to 15 years in jail, in the Gauteng North High Court. Picture: Zelda Venter/Pretoria News.

Pretoria - After a marathon trial which lasted nearly three years, five people, including academics, who had defrauded the SA Revenue Service (Sars) were given sentences ranging from hefty jail terms to suspended sentences.

The group were convicted on fraud and in some instances racketeering charges totalling about R11 million. It involved tender fraud against Sars.

Former Sars deputy commissioner Dr Mandisa Mokwena had her name cleared earlier on more than 50 charges relating to tender fraud and money laundering.

Mokwena, a former business partner of one of former president Jacob Zuma’s wives, Thobeka Zuma, left Sars in 2009 under a cloud after disciplinary proceedings were about to be instituted against her.

Judge Sulet Potterill, sitting in the Gauteng North High Court, in acquitting her last year, said while the court may in certain instances not believe her version of the events, the State failed to prove its case against her beyond a reasonable doubt.

The allegations against Mokwena included that she, between September 2007 and up to the end of July 2009, in her capacity as general manager of Sars’s risk management division, in a “corrupt manner” ensured that training and research tenders were awarded to her co-accused.

The court heard how they registered companies and close corporations used to fraudulently secure contracts for training and research from the Sars risk management division.

It was found that the Sars procurement process was manipulated for the accused to secure the contracts.

Former Unisa Professor Oludele Akinbode, 55, said to be the kingpin, was sentenced to an effective 15 years imprisonment. 

His wife Nancy Akinbode, 53,  was spared jail and given a suspended sentenced. Judge Potterill emphasised that she is spared jail only because the couple have two small children who had no one to take care of them.

Professor Boateng Gyekye, 68, formerly employed at the University of Venda, was also given a suspended sentence. 

The court found that he played a minor role in the fraud and that he “heeded the call from accused two (Akinbode) who was a friend and colleague. 

“He lost his way,” the judge said about Gyekye.

Boitumelo Boshego, 62, a pastor in her church who involved her family in the fraud, was also sentenced to an effective 15 year jail sentence.

Former Sars cost management manager Leslie Moonsammy, was also given a suspended sentence as he was only convicted on one charge of fraud.

Judge Potterill said so-called white collar crimes justified severe sentences. 

“An honest aspect of public welfare is honest dealing in commercial life. “So-called white collar crime - involving the abuse of official or corporate office for dishonest exploitation of the opportunities to profit in modern business practices is detrimental to the state, the consumer and the taxpayer,” she said.

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