Shelembe free, Moloi guilty

2013-05-29 00:00

A “LONG journey” ended for former Msunduzi deputy mayor Alpha Shelembe and his wife when they were acquitted on money laundering charges yesterday.

However, KwaZulu-Natal businessman Lucky Moloi was in a sombre mood after being found guilty of corruption for accepting R200 000 to influence the uMgungundlovu District Municipality to buy MIB House in Langalibalele Street at an inflated price of R6 850 000 in 2003.

The sellers had wanted R6 million for the property.

Regional court magistrate Jaco Jordaan found the state had proved that Moloi had seen to it that the price for MIB House was “substantially increased” so that he and others could be paid commission.

He found Moloi, a councillor at the district municipality at the time, had accepted R200 000 as commission which he was not legally entitled to.

He rejected Moloi’s version that the money was paid to settle a debt that the late Neville Watts — the estate agent who negotiated the deal — owed him. According to Watts’s statement, he’d only owed Moloi R50 000.

Jordaan said he was satisfied that the co-owner of MIB House, Gavin Breetzke — who was warned as a possible accomplice to the charges — had testified honestly and frankly and discharged him from prosecution.

Moloi’s lawyer, Simphiwe Moloi, had submitted that the court should be cautious of accepting Breetzke’s evidence — that Moloi told him that the purchase price for MIB House had been raised to increase the commission — saying it was not corroborated.

“I cannot accept it … this is a false accusation,” a visibly unhappy Moloi said outside court after the verdict.

Jordaan agreed to a request on Moloi’s behalf to adjourn the case to June 20 for evidence in mitigation of sentence.

He extended Moloi’s bail to that date.

The court’s acquittal of Alpha and Joyful Shelembe was a formality after state advocate Makhosi Mthembu had conceded that the prosecution had failed to prove the corruption and money laundering charges against them.

Jordaan agreed the state had failed to prove that Alpha Shelembe knew that six cheques paid to him were the proceeds of unlawful activities, and said it followed that it had also not proved that money he paid into their business account was illegally obtained.

A clearly elated Alpha Shelembe hugged his wife for the cameras to cheers from his supporters after the verdict.

“We are obviously happy with our acquittal. I always had confidence in the justice system and I always will,’” he said.

Shelembe added that it had been a “long journey” to reach this point.

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