AFU freezes R29m assets linked to prepaid electricity ‘ghost vending ring’

06 November 2023 - 12:43
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The AFU has been granted a freezing order against an alleged syndicate behind a nationwide 'ghost vending' operation. Stock photo.
The AFU has been granted a freezing order against an alleged syndicate behind a nationwide 'ghost vending' operation. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF

The National Prosecuting Authority's (NPA) asset forfeiture unit (AFU) has been granted an order to freeze the assets of a prepaid electricity “ghost vending ring” that allegedly swindled Eskom out of millions.

The restraint order was granted by the Pretoria high court on Thursday and resulted in the freezing of properties and cash worth R29m belonging to the accused.

NPA spokesperson Lumka Mahanjana said the ghost vending operation was allegedly initiated in 2012 by Mothelli Ben Theletsane, who allegedly illegally generated electricity vouchers which he sold to the public for personal profit.

“Theletsane was employed at Eskom on a contract basis and worked in a pre-paid environment, supporting Eskom's pre-paid vending system. He operated as a supervisor and therefore obtained intimate knowledge of the operations of machines. He also acquired technical expertise on the ins and outs of the credit dispensing units (CDU).

“During his employment, he also acquired, unknowingly to Eskom, a master vending unit that can generate limitless prepaid electricity vouchers and a few CDUs which he concealed after his exit from Eskom.”

After his death in 2017, the operation was allegedly taken over by his widow, Thandi Theletsane, 50, and her sons Papi Theletsane, 31, Tebello Theletsane, 24, and Sibusiso Migal, 34.

According to the NPA, the Theletsane operation became so lucrative that it was expanded throughout all nine provinces.

“Through the syndicate the Theletsane family and the company, Mothelli Theletsane Holdings and Investment, managed to acquire 27 movable and 39 immovable properties worth more than R23m from the proceeds of crime.”

Other accused allegedly linked to the syndicate are Petrus Mohapi, 43, Donald Rammusi, 33, Victor Mdlalose, 62, Joseph Mdlalose, 38, Florence Mdlalose, 28, Daniel Mapena Moleko, 30, Xolani Dube, 30, Lebohang Dennis Thabanyana, 37, Raymond Balfour Mohapi, 40, and Sebabatso Madibuseng Mbele, 40.

"[They all] acquired 17 movable and one immovable property.”

The accused were arrested in July 2021 and have appeared before the Fochville magistrate’s court on charges of fraud and theft. 

At their most recent court appearance on October 31 this year, the case was remanded to November 15 for one of the accused to apply for Legal Aid, the NPA said.

TimesLIVE


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