Mangaung municipality exploited - court

2012-10-18 22:46
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Bloemfontein - The Mangaung municipality’s financial system was exploited by officials and business people to make money, the Free State High Court in Bloemfontein found on Thursday.

Judge A Kruger dismissed allegations of a racketeering enterprise at the Mangaung municipality and acquitted former Mangaung mayor Pappie Mokoena and his wife Granny of these and other charges.

He also found former municipal manager Mojalefa Matlole not guilty of fraud and racketeering charges.

However, five other former Mangaung officials and four business people were found guilty on several charges of fraud and money-laundering.

They were the former municipal speaker Zongezile Zumane, former business manager Mzwandile Silwana and Jakes Thithi, a political adviser.

Others were Silwana's wife Brigitte, Evodia Kok (Zumane's personal assistant), Laetitia Hoffman (Mokoena's personal assistant), Buyelwa Khethelo, a businesswoman from Rocklands, and two Heidedal businessmen, Keabecoe and Kegomodicoe Lekone.

The State alleged that the group used the executive mayor’s office at the municipality as an enterprise for racketeering activities.

The alleged racketeering acts related to catering, consultancy and contract services.

Judge Kruger did not agree.

"The lack of such intent common to all becomes apparent if one looks at the wide and diverse range of activities committed by a wide range of different people."

He said the only common motive was to exploit a dysfunctional financial system through a wide range of activities to make money.

The court found the Mangaung municipality’s procurement procedures and policies were not clear at the time when the fraudulent acts were committed.

"The evidence of officials from the finance department illustrate that there was confusion."

Kruger held that rules related to declaration of interests were not understood in the same manner by all, and were generally flouted.

Mokoena said he was relieved at his acquittal, but was saddened at the guilty verdicts against the others.

"It is unfortunate the State had targeted other people, who were now convicted."

Mokoena said he was the main target of a malicious prosecution, which had lasted for more than seven years.

"It was aimed to destroy my reputation and integrity, my image."

He said it was obvious that the municipality at the time, as an institution, had been targeted by people who had used state machinery for a takeover.

The trial followed an investigation by the now-disbanded Scorpions into the Mangaung local municipality.

This led to the arrests of Mokoena and the others in 2005.

Kruger postponed the matter to Monday for arguments before sentencing.

- SAPA
Read more on:    pappie mokoena  |  bloemfontein  |  local government
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