Pumza “Poshee” Gambula (48), who fraudulently claimed millions from a municipality in the Eastern Cape for Covid-19 awareness workshops, was on Thursday released on R20 000 bail following a brief appearance in the Mthatha Magistrates’ Court on two charges of fraud amounting to R4.8 million.
Gambula was arrested early in the morning by the Hawks.
“The suspect was arrested this morning following a three months intensive prosecution-led investigation into the Covid-19 awareness services,” said Hawks spokesperson Colonel Katlego Mogale.
Sipho Ngwema, the National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson, said Gambula, through her company Phathilizwi Training Institute, had a contract with the OR Tambo District Municipality to conduct awareness workshops on an ongoing basis.
He said that between March and June this year, during the stricter levels of the national lockdown, the institute submitted two invoices of R3 million and R1.8 million to the municipality.
The company claimed for conducting “door to door community awareness workshops on Covid-19” in different wards in the Mhlontlo and Port St John’s Local Municipalities, which fall under the OR Tambo District Municipality.
“The state alleges that the accused and the institute’s employees visited the wards in these municipalities. However, members of the community were asked to write down their names for Covid-19 social grants. No Covid-19 awareness workshops were conducted.
“Attendance registers attached to the invoices as proof of services rendered contained names of people who were not staying in some of the wards that were visited by the accused as part of their ‘door to door awareness campaign on Covid-19’.
“These documents were widely circulated on social media leading to massive national outcry. Even though the claimed amounts were not paid to the accused, the municipality stood to suffer a potential prejudice by means of the said false pretences,” Ngwema said.
Gambula’s bail conditions included that she should hand over her passport to the investigating officer and report to the Madeira police station in Mthatha twice a week until the trial is finalised. The matter was postponed to October 30 for further investigation.