Hawks official charged with corruption alongside NPA's Matric Luphondo dies

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Advocate Matric Luphondo.
Advocate Matric Luphondo.
Phill Magakoe, Gallo Images
  • One of Matric Luphondo's co-accused in their corruption case has died.
  • Luphondo and a Hawks official have been accused of bribing a prosecutor to drop a criminal case against Mpumalanga human settlements head of department Kebone Masange.
  • Masange is accused of being in the country illegally and using fraudulent documents to get a government post.

A Hawks official who was charged with corruption alongside acting Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Matric Luphondo has died.

When the matter was called in the Pretoria Magistrate's Court on Friday, Luphondo and Kebone Masange, the head of the Mpumalanga human settlements department, entered the dock while their co-accused, Hawks official Ayanda Plaatjie, was not present.

The court heard that Plaatjie had died since they last appeared in court in April this year. The cause of death was not given.

While waiting for a death certificate from Plaatjie's attorney, the State asked the court to issue a warrant of arrest, which is to be stayed until the next court appearance.

The court also heard that investigations had not yet been completed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

READ | Matric Luphondo case: State claims main witness is being followed

The State put it on record that the completion of the forensic analysis of exhibits and the analysis of electronically obtained documents had been delayed.

The defence teams for Luphondo and Masange argued that the State had given the impression that the matter was nearly trial-ready at the last court appearance.

They asked that the investigations be expedited and that the State provide the defence with copies of the evidence to have it independently analysed. This request went unanswered.

The matter was postponed to 30 November.

Alleged crime

According to the State, Luphondo and Plaatjie allegedly colluded with Masange to make the criminal charges against him disappear.

Masange, who was born in Zimbabwe, was arrested in September 2020 on charges of fraud, possession of fraudulent documents and contravening the Immigration Act.

It has been alleged that he was in the country illegally and used fraudulent documents in his application for the head of department position in the Mpumalanga Department of Human Settlements.

According to the charge sheet, on 12 March 2021, Plaatjie approached the prosecutor at the DPP's office in Pretoria, who was assigned to prosecute Masange and asked if there was any way "to get out this case".

On 18 March, Luphondo allegedly called the prosecutor and requested a meeting that was held at a McDonald's eatery in Arcadia, Tshwane.

READ | Corruption-accused acting Mpumalanga NPA boss Matric Luphondo served with suspension notice

There, Luphondo allegedly told the prosecutor Masange was willing to do anything to get out of the case and they should help him out.

Less than a week later, on 23 March, it is alleged that Luphondo met up with the prosecutor and handed him an 18-year-old bottle of Glenfiddich whiskey, valued at R1 550, and R5 000 in cash.

The charge sheet alleged Luphondo then told the prosecutor there would be more where that came from.

Four days later, Plaatjie allegedly contacted the prosecutor and asked to meet him at the Foundations circle in Tshwane, where he handed the prosecutor R28 000 in cash.

All three accused previously said they intended pleading not guilty to the charges.

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