- Four senior Northern Cape government officials have been arrested for fraud.
- The case is linked to the purchase of diamonds valued at about R6 million. The diamonds later disappeared.
- The diamonds were intended for a training programme funded by the European Union.
Four senior Northern Cape government officials arrested in connection with a R6.7 million fraud case appeared in court where they were later released on a R10 000 bail each.
The officials, from the Northern Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism, were arrested on early on Wednesday morning and appeared in court on the same day as well as Thursday.
Former Head of Department Patrick Seboko, 66, Chief Financial Officer Kuberin Packirisamy, 60, Senior Project Manager Tebogo Basil Gaborone, 46, and Chief Director Lizette Wyngaard, 56, appeared in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court and were all released on a R10 000 bail.
They appeared on charges of fraud, as well as contravening both the Diamonds and Public Finance Management acts, said Hawks spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Philani Nkwalase.
They allegedly purchased diamonds for a European Union-funded training programme. The diamonds later went missing.
"These charges stem from donor funding surpassing R6.7 million, received from the European Union, during the 2010-'11 financial year. The funds were intended for training students in cutting and polishing uncut diamonds," said Nkwalase.
"The diamonds were bought in March 2011 from a private entity without the necessary licences to buy rough diamonds, and consequently these diamonds were stored at the premises of the same private entity," Nkwalase said.
Forty students were enrolled in the programme that year and were meant to undergo a mining qualification course in cutting and polishing diamonds, facilitated by the Kimberley Diamonds International Jewellery Academy, said Nkwalase.
"It was established that the diamonds were missing and unaccounted for in July 2012. This was uncovered during a random inspection by the Auditor-General. The Hawks investigation into the diamonds saga resulted in the arrest of four senior officials from the Northern Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism," he said.
The case has been postponed to 22 October.
This story has been updated to reflect the court appearance of the accused.
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