Gwede Mantashe fires his foundation's COO in wake of corruption claims

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Gwede Mantashe
Gwede Mantashe
PHOTO: Felix Dlangamandla/Netwerk24
  • Minerals and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe has axed the COO of his foundation over the "reckless use" of his foundation's name.
  • The Gwede Mantashe Foundation has denied allegations that it received any direct or indirect payments from companies mentioned in reports.
  • A company of which the COO was a director, allegedly received up to R6 million from electrical wholesaler Voltex.

Minerals and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe has fired the chief operations officer (COO) of his foundation following reports that money meant for a private company was disguised as a donation to the foundation.

On Saturday, News24 reported that in October 2016, foundation COO Caswell Mokoena allegedly wrote a letter on the NGO's letterhead to acknowledge receipt of a R935 000 donation from Voltex. However, the money was allegedly received by Ntlokholo Investments, a company of which Mokoena was a director. He resigned from the company in May 2017.

Voltex, an electrical wholesaler, is a subsidiary of the JSE-listed Bidvest Group. The details of the payment are contained in papers in a R17-million lawsuit that was filed in the Labour Court in November.

ALSO READ | EXCLUSIVE: Bidvest company, Mantashe's foundation rocked by corruption claims

In the papers Nicolaos Riga, a former internal auditor at Voltex, claimed that Voltex paid Ntlokholo up to R6 million in questionable payments. The payments, Riga argued, relate to a 2015 tender in which Solid State Power, a subsidiary of Voltex, had been awarded for the supply of solar geysers to the Department of Energy.

Riga argued that the payments were questionable because Ntlokholo Investments was not a party to the geyser contract between Solid State Power and the Department of Energy.

A statement issued by the Gwede Mantashe Foundation stated that "the foundation together with Mr Mokoena have concluded that Mr Mokoena [should] be relieved of his duties so as to allow him to deal with this matter".

"The foundation has not received any form of direct or indirect payments from the companies mentioned in the reports. Therefore, where allegations of irregular conduct or payments being made to an individual or entity who may happen to be associated with the foundation, should be laid at the door of that person and/or entity.

"The foundation is strongly against any individual associated with it who may abuse its official brand, any of its material, and the position they hold in it, to act in a manner that harms its image and standing and, thereby, undermine its objective. In this sense, it was erroneous of Mr Caswell Mokoena, as the COO of the foundation, to have used the foundation's letterhead in the manner that he did," the statement said.

The foundation, the statement said, is a charitable entity that raises funds through various initiatives to support communities that are in need.

"For all intents and purposes, fundraising...is directed to the cause and not the foundation directly.

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