Free State officials in court for allegedly defrauding municipality

Four senior officials and a director of a private company appeared briefly in the Phuthaditjhaba Magistrate’s Court for allegedly defrauding the bankrupt Maluti-a-Phofung municipality in the Free State.

The five suspects allegedly conspired and colluded during October 2016 and awarded company Zero Tolerance a tender to provide protection and security services to the municipality without following the correct supply chain management processes in terms of Municipal Finance Management Act.

The municipality is currently under administration.

Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said Mokoana Robert Tsupa, 46, Abraham Moratwe Mofokeng, 47, Mabidikwana Wilfred Matjele, 61, Nkgaudise Nelson Molefe, 39, and Configen/Trading Zero Tolerance director Tefo Warnic Montsitsi, 50, were arrested on Tuesday morning and appeared in court hours later.

Tsupa is former municipal manager, Mofokeng is the current chief financial officer, Matjele is the current director of public safety and Molefe is manager at supply chain department in the municipality.

The five appeared in court on charges of fraud and corruption and were each granted R10 000 bail.

“They were arrested after warrants for their arrests were executed by the Hawks’ serious corruption crime investigating unit following investigation into a security services tender that was unduly awarded to Zero Tolerance.

“The municipality reportedly lost almost R700 000 as a result of an alleged irregular, wasteful and fruitless expenditure. Prior to the arrests the investigation team seized documents and electronic equipment for analysis to assist with further investigations,” said Mulaudzi.

The seized documents revealed that Zero Tolerance was at some stage appointed by Dihlabeng local municipality to render similar services.

The appointment was declared unlawful by the High Court in Bloemfontein after a rival entity successfully challenged it. The tender was then set aside. Despite this, in 2016 Tsupa, as the Maluti-a-Phofung municipal manager, allegedly undeservedly appointed Zero Tolerance to run the protection and security services for the municipality using the same contract that was declared unlawful and set aside by the High Court.

The accused are expected back in court on March 8, 2019.

EFF applauds Hawks

The EFF in the municipality has applauded the Hawks for arresting the five officials.

The party’s caucus leader in the municipality, Mahlomola Majake, said although the accused had been released on R10 000 bail each, the party was confident that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) had a watertight case against them.

“We implore on all those that have more evidence that could assist the Hawks and NPA on the case to feel free to approach relevant authorities or the EFF with information,” said Majake.

By News24.

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