Fraud-accused ex-mayor didn't want job
Bloemfontein - Fraud accused and former Mangaung mayor Pappie Mokoena had no ambition to become mayor, but was asked to stand by the ANC, the Free State High Court in Bloemfontein heard on Monday.
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 he was asked to be part of an internal Free State leadership structure in 1998 after the ANC national executive committee disbanded the provincial leadership structure.
"There was a lot of infighting at the time," he said.
The move ended in the ANC's redeployment of former Free State premier Mosiuoa "Terror" Lekota, who is now the leader of the Congress of the People, to national ANC structures.
Mokoena testified that the 2000 local government election was at hand and the ANC leadership at the time wanted him as Mangaung mayor.
He said not everybody was happy with the move and there were a lot of "negative perceptions to the mayor elect".
Mokoena told Judge A Kruger "forces" were against him as mayor from the start.
He testified that this "pattern" of negativity from within the municipal council continued and that "people" constantly sent information to newspapers about his alleged involvement in irregularities.
It was submitted that the public protector at the time investigated Mokoena due to "ongoing complaints send by councillors to the media" but found no wrongdoing on his part.
He said the auditor general - in a report at the time - exonerated him on certain matters investigated.
Mokoena’s legal counsel Johann Nel led testimony on his client's professional and private relationships with the other accused in the matter.
This was mostly around entities which had done business in catering and construction with the municipality, and included Koena Foods, a catering business of his wife’s mother.
The former mayor also testified on various aspects such as how the municipal management functioned during his time.
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 Laetitia 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.
The matter continues.