Moloi not yet off the hook

2013-05-04 00:00

BUSINESSMAN Lucky Moloi is not yet off the hook on a corruption charge and has to answer to the allegation, regional court magistrate Jaco Jordaan ruled yesterday.

But two of Moloi’s former co- accused — Nelisiwe Shelembe and Thembinkosi Xaba — walked free after Jordaan found that there is no evidence linking them to allegations of money laundering with which they were charged.

Jordaan also found that there was no evidence that former uMgungundlovu district councillor and ex-Msunduzi deputy mayor Alpha Shelembe committed fraud or corruption. He ruled that the state has made out a case for him and his wife and business partner, Joyful Shelembe, to answer concerning money laundering charges.

In that regard, Jordaan said the state has proved that various cheques — to the total value of R200 000 (the alleged commission he received from the sale of MIB House to uMgungundlovu district municipality in 2003), were made out to Shelembe.

One of these cheques was subsequently paid into the account of Joy Catering and Hire Services, a business jointly run by Shelembe and his wife.

A clearly delighted Shelembe hugged his sister, Nelisiwe, in the court foyer in the wake of the ruling. He said it was premature to make any comment as he and his wife are still in the dock. “I am very happy and I thank God,” Nelisiwe said shortly after walking out of the accused’s dock for the last time.

Xaba declined to make any comment.

The case against the five accused was based on allegations that uMgungundlovu district municipality had been fraudulently and corruptly influenced by former councillors Moloi, Shelembe and the late Themba Zungu to buy MIB House at an “inflated” price of R6 850 000, in exchange for which they illegally received commission.

The money was allegedly “laundered” through the accounts of the other accused.

Jordaan said yesterday the evidence revealed that the price of R6 850 000 which the district municipality paid for MIB House was in actual fact below market value, as the property had been valued by various experts as being worth R7,1 million or higher.

He found therefore that there had been no misrepresentations to the municipality as far as the value of the property was concerned.

He said, however, the state had made out a prima facie case that Moloi had corruptly benefited from the sale of MIB House to the municipality and said he “at least has to answer” to that charge.

The hearing was adjourned until May 16 and 17 while defence lawyers — advocate Jerome Brauns, SC, and attorney Simphiwe Moloi — consider whether Lucky Moloi, Shelembe and Joyful Shelembe will testify or call witnesses in their defence.

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