Ex-mayor denies getting dirty money

2011-10-11 17:58
Bloemfontein - Former Mangaung mayor and fraud accused Pappie Mokoena denied ever receiving money from his personal assistant for illegal activities, the Free State High Court in Bloemfontein heard on Tuesday.

“Not true, absolutely not true,” said Mokoena during cross-examination in his fraud and racketeering trial.

He was replying to statements by State prosecutor Johan de Nysschen on payments from the bank account of his personal assistant at the municipality, Laetitia Hoffman, into his account.

Earlier, De Nysschen asked Mokoena why she would make large cash deposits into his bank account.

Mokoena was testifying in his own defence in a multi-million rand Mangaung fraud and racketeering trial.

The former mayor and 18 others face 259 charges, including theft and money laundering involving an estimated R130m. Not all the accused face all the charges.

Mokoena testified that from time to time Hoffman paid money into his account for allowances and travel expenses.

He submitted that in many instances the municipality’s cheques were cleared with the bank to allow them to have cash for expenses, instead of waiting for the seven-day clearance period.

The former mayor denied this was “fraud money” or “stolen money”.

Earlier, De Nysschen showed the court allegedly fraudulent invoices found on Hoffman’s work computer for catering services worth thousands of rand.

Mokoena, his wife Granny, former municipal manager Mojalefa Matlole, former municipal speaker Zongezile Zumane, and former business manager Mzwandile Silwana face charges of fraud and racketeering.

Other accused include Jakes Thithi, the political adviser to the former mayor, Silwana's wife Brigitte, Evodia Kok (Zumane's personal assistant) and Hoffman (Mokoena's personal assistant), Buyelwa Khethelo, a businesswoman from Rocklands, Soweto, and two Heidedal businessmen, Keabecoe and Kegomodicoe Lekone.

The trial followed an investigation by the now-disbanded Scorpions.

Mokoena was also questioned about his knowledge of Koena Foods, a catering business of Granny's mother.

He said Koena Foods had been doing business with the municipality long before he became mayor, and that his wife resigned as partner soon after his election.

Mokoena denied he was forced to declare his and his family’s business interests when he became mayor.

"No, sir it's not correct. We had to do it, not because the issue was mentioned [a problem]," he said.

The case continues.

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