Icasa's Rubben Mohlaloga still a free man despite getting 20-year sentence last year
Mohlaloga walked out of the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on February 14 last year with co-fraudsters - former Land Bank acting chief executive Phillemon Mohlahlane and attorney Dinga Nkhwashu - on grounds that they would file sentence appeal applications.
The Star can reveal that a year later, the trio found guilty of defrauding the Land Bank of R6 million, is far from either going to jail or scoring a ruling that cancels their sentences.
Their sentence appeal applications were not ready to be placed on the roll of the North Gauteng High Court, where they will be heard.
A move by Mohlaloga to launch a petition to Gauteng High Court Judge President Dunstan Mlambo, that he be allowed to also appeal against the conviction, was central to the court’s unreadiness.
Asked why the matter was not proceeding a year later, the National Prosecuting Authority cited the petition before Judge Mlambo.
Rudi Krause, Mohlaloga’s lawyer, confirmed that they sought to have the conviction set aside as well.
“The appeal is not ready to be heard. The judge must first consider the petition in relation to the conviction,” Krause said.
The defence lawyers had no hand in the delay in finalising the matter, he said.
“It’s out of our hands. It’s in the hands of the judges. The petition has been filed. We’re waiting for the judges,” Krause said.
Judiciary spokesperson Nathi Mncube said final particulars for the petition were received this month.
“We can confirm that the main seat of the Gauteng Division of the High Court (Pretoria) is currently seized with the final petition received on February5, 2020,” Mncube said.
“In October 2019, correspondence was received indicating that one of the accused intended to file a petition. There was continuous correspondence with the legal representative of one of the accused until the final petition was filed on February 5.”
Mncube said there should be finality to the petition soon: “It has been allocated to a judge and should be finalised in the next coming weeks.”
The conviction Mohlaloga sought to appeal against was delivered in January 2018. The three also stayed out of jail, and Mohlaloga kept his Independent Communications Authority of SA top job,following the conviction.
A former deputy president of the ANC Youth League, Mohlaloga was an MP and chairperson of the portfolio committee on agriculture in 2008 when he pocketed money stolen from a scheme the Land Bank had set up to empower black farmers.
Mohlahlane and Nkhwashu colluded with Mohlaloga to have the money transferred from the Land Bank’s coffers.
It landed in a trust account controlled by Nkhwashu, before being distributed.
If their appeals fail, Mohlaloga faces 20 years behind bars and Nkhwashu faces 24 years. Pensioner Mohlahlane was given seven years.
Parallels could be drawn between this matter and the case of fraudster Schabir Shaik, who went to jail two years after his conviction. After being handed a 15-year sentence for fraud and corruption in June 2005, Shaik went on an appeal run.
While his appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal failed in 2006, his run ended when the Constitutional Court ruled in 2007 that his attempts did “not bear any reasonable prospect of success”.