Former head of Mthatha state attorney's office appears in court on fraud charges

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Specialised Commercial Crime Court
Specialised Commercial Crime Court
PHOTO: Joseph Chirume, GroundUp

A former head of the Mthatha state attorney's office, Sithembele Tshitshi, and lawyer Xolani Polo were granted R5 000 bail each in the Mthatha Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on Thursday.

Along with Polo's law firm, Polo Attorneys, they are facing charges of fraud and contravening the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).

"It is alleged in July 2016 Polo was employed as a professional assistant at VE Mbangeleli Attorneys. He dealt with litigation matters against the Department of Health and the South African Police Service. Mbangeleli Attorneys were the attorneys of record in these matters," NPA regional spokesperson Luxolo Tyali said in a statement on Thursday.

The function of the Office of the State Attorney is to represent the State in litigation claims against government departments.

However, when the matters reached finalisation, Polo allegedly misrepresented himself and submitted claims for legal services rendered. The funds were allegedly paid to his law firm instead of VE Mbangeleli Attorneys.

Tyali said:

Tshitshi authorised…a second payment to VE Mbangeleli Attorneys, even though he was aware that Polo had already been paid for the same services, in gross negligence of the PFMA.

The matter was referred to the NPA's Specialised Commercial Crimes Unit following an investigation by the Special Investigating Unit.

The case was postponed to 31 May for pre-trial proceedings and to allow the State time to hand the contents of the docket to the defence.


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