The racketeering trial of former Mangaung mayor Pappie Mokoena, his wife and several of the local municipality’s former senior officials was postponed in the High Court in Bloemfontein today.
Judge A Kruger postponed the matter to next year after two accused, Jakes Thithi and Laetitia Hoffman, were unable to get help from Legal Aid.
Those standing trail are Mokoena; his wife, Granny; former municipal manager Mojalefa Matlole; former municipal speaker Zongezile Zumane; and former business manager Mzwandile Silwana.
Others include Thithi, the political advisor to the former major; Silwana’s wife, Brigitte; Evodia Kok (Zumane’s personal assistant) and Hoffman (Mokoena’s personal assistant); Buyelwa Khethelo, a businesswoman from Rocklands, Soweto; and two Heidedal businessmen, Keabecoe and Kegomodicoe Lekone.
The case has progressed painfully slowly since the beginning of the year. The last postponements were due to lawyers withdrawing when their clients couldn’t pay them.
The State has called 32 witnesses already, with an estimated 50 more to testify.
Today, Thithi told the court his efforts to get Legal Aid had been fruitless and that he was busy appealing a refusal.
Judge Kruger postponed the trial to February 1, to run until March 25, and expressed his dissatisfaction with the latest delays.
“This matter must come to finality and must be dealt with,” he said.
The former executive mayor and his co-accused face a total of 259 charges, including theft and money laundering involving an estimated R130 million. Not all the accused face all the charges.
The case followed an investigation by the now-disbanded Scorpions.?