Three more charged with kidnapping and extortion of Limpopo water board head

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  • The case related to the kidnapping of Lepelle Water Board boss has been postponed to July.
  • Three more suspects added and charged with extortion and kidnapping. 
  • The tender fraud case will be heard in the Polokwane Specialised Commercial Crimes Court. 

Three more people have been charged in the tender fraud and corruption case, involving the alleged kidnapping and extortion of Lepelle Northern Water Board acting chief executive Ahuiwi Netshidaulu. 

Gumani Gangashe, Mpho Chokolo, and Vusi Mhlongo made their first appearance in the Polokwane High Court on Friday. 

They join former Lepelle Northern Water Board Chief Executive Officer Phineas Kgahlisho Legodi, the chairperson of the Bid Evaluation Committee Ngwako Micheal Moseamedi, and businessman Matome Sefalafala who are facing charges of tender fraud, corruption, kidnapping, and extortion.

The case was postponed to 19 and 20 July so the group can have their first appearance in the Polokwane Specialised Commercial Crimes Court.

The group is out on bail ranging between R1 000 and R20 000. They are charged alongside Sefalafala’s company Falaz General Trading and Construction.

The National Prosecuting Authority’s Sipho Ngwema said their arrest follows allegations of kidnapping and extortion by Netshidaulu.

Netshidaulu was appointed a few months after Legodi, who was put on precautionary suspension by the interim board of the entity.

ALSO READ | SIU granted temporary order freezing pension benefits of former Lepelle Northern Water CEO

In 2018, the Lepelle Northern Water Board awarded an R45 million tender to Falaz for the collection, removal, and disposal of hazardous waste management. Legodi was the CEO, and accounting officer of the Lepelle Northern Water Board, at the time. It is alleged that Sefalafala submitted forged documents for the tender. The tender was set aside by the Polokwane High Court. 

It is alleged that on 2 November 2020, Netshidaulu had discussions with Sefalafala about payment of the balance of the invoice that was submitted on behalf of Falaz. Netshidaulu indicated to Sefalafala that the payment could not be made because of pending investigations.

Sefalafala, it is alleged, promised to provide Netshidaulu with a letter confirming that the case was closed. He sent the letter and Netshidaulu ignored it.

Ngwema said on 13 November 2020, people claiming to be police officers from Silverton Police Station met Netshidaulu at Polokwane Police Station. They informed him they had a warrant for his arrest in relation to a case opened by Sefalafala. The allegation was that Netshidaulu had extorted money from Sefalafala in order for Lepelle to pay the Falaz invoice.

"It is said, however, instead of producing the warrant and effecting the arrest of Netshidaulu, the men wanted to discuss the payment of the invoice and said they would not arrest him if he agreed to meet with Sefalafala."

The businessman was called into the meeting where he allegedly insisted on the payment of the invoice and gave Netshidaulu two hours to go back to his office and make the payment.

Ngwema said a case docket for extortion was opened on 15 November in Silverton and closed on 18 November 2020.

It is alleged that on 18 November 2020, Netshidaulu was kidnapped and coerced into instructing his staff to pay Falaz by Sefalafala. According to Netshidaulu, he was only released once Sefalafala confirmed a receipt of payment of R2 980 961.81 into his account.

The group was arrested in December and the Polokwane High Court granted the Asset Forfeiture Unit a preservation order to freeze Falaz’s bank accounts.

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