Cassel Mathale at court for sentencing of wife’s former co-accused

2014-02-01 11:06

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Former Limpopo premier Cassel Mathale was yesterday seen at the Maake Magistrates’ Court near Tzaneen, where his wife’s former co-accused was sentenced for illegal mining activities.

Mathale’s wife, Mokgadi Kgohloane, was one of the directors of Blue Platinum Ventures 16 who were arrested late last year after their company started mining activities without permission.

After several court appearances, charges were withdrawn against Kgohloane and six others. Matome Maponya, who was the managing director of Blue Platinum, pleaded guilty.

While those facing charges related to illegal mining can be liable for a R5 million fine or can be sentenced to 10 years imprisonment, Maponya got a suspended five-year sentence.

He is, however, not completely off the hook after the Asset Forfeiture Unit asked the court to launch a confiscation inquiry to establish whether Maponya had benefited financially from the crime he pleaded guilty to. Maponya said no money had been made from the crime by the company, but if the inquiry finds otherwise, he is set to lose some of his property to the state.

Before he was sentenced and during mitigation, Maponya told the court he was unemployed and that Blue Platinum had ceased to operate. He said he was the father of three children who were still in school and that his family was solely supported by his wife.

Maponya asked the court for a lenient sentence and offered to pay R20 000, which will be paid in monthly instalments of R5 000.

The court heard that Blue Platinum started operating a year after its licence had expired and proceeded with some mining activities on five sites without a permit.

The mining activities have had some environmental impact, particularly on the nearby residential areas.

Maponya has offered to pay for the rehabilitation of the affected areas and the court gave him until April to do so.

Yesterday, at court, Mathale was seen sitting next to Maponya before sentencing proceedings started, but he left before the matter was concluded.

His wife, however, remained in court. The two are believed to have been there to support Maponya.

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