More state officials charged in court for alleged fraud, corruption

Northern Cape, North West, Limpopo and Free State accused must face the music

03 January 2024 - 06:00
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The former head of the department of health in the Northern Cape, Dr Dion Theys, was convicted in August last year of contravening the Public Finance Management Act. He is still in the employ of the department.
The former head of the department of health in the Northern Cape, Dr Dion Theys, was convicted in August last year of contravening the Public Finance Management Act. He is still in the employ of the department.
Image: Northern Cape health department.

There are a number of government officials who found themselves on the wrong side of the law in the past year or who are set to face serious charges, most of them related to allegedly embezzling public funds. 

Prominent among them is Dr Dion Theys, former head of the health department in the Northern Cape, who was arrested in August in relation to the alleged irregular procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Theys was arrested with six other officials in his department and two company directors. They are accused of fraud, corruption, money laundering and contravening the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). The provincial health department suffered a loss of R16.9m. 

Officials arrested with Theys were CFO Daniel Mosimanegape Gaborone, deputy director of finance Victor Nyokong, Montgomery Lifa, Siyabulela Booi, Goitemodimo Piet Moseki and Dibueng Manyetsa. Also served with warrants were Kanyaditswe Visser, a director of MKV Investment, and Kelebogile Bogatso, a director of Stilofern. 

A week earlier, Theys was convicted on another charge of contravening the PFMA and fined R150,000 or three years’ imprisonment by the Kimberley specialised commercial crimes court.    

The conviction was in connection with the irregular procurement of nursing accommodation amounting to more than R13m during 2010 and 2012.

In September, provincial health MEC Maruping Lekwene announced that Theys was being moved from his position as head of department as a “precautionary measure”. He was moved to the post of medical director in the same department. 

Theys appeared in the Kimberley regional court in October last year in another allegedly fraudulent PPE-related matter involving R26.9m. He appeared with Gaborone and 12 other accused. 

The case involves a PPE contract irregularly awarded to Macronym 37 in 2020 by the provincial department of health, which had allegedly not followed proper procurement processes.

Free State politician faces corruption charges 

A politician who found herself in hot water was Free State social development MEC Motshidise Agnes Koloi. In August last year she appeared in the Kroonstad magistrate’s court to face charges relating to the hiring of a sound system when she was mayor of the Moqhaka municipality in 2017.

Other co-accused are chief director in the Free State human settlements department Vusumuzi Rajuili and political adviser to Matjhabeng mayor Serake Joseph Leeuw. They were charged with fraud, corruption, money laundering and contravention of the Municipal Finance Management Act. (MFMA). 

It is alleged the trio worked in cahoots to take more than R150,000 under the pretext it would be used for a sound system during a Nelson Mandela memorial lecture. The event never took place despite money being paid. 

Koloi resigned as MEC a week after her court appearance. She had been released on R10,000 bail.

North West health chief director up for fraud

In September, the North West health department’s chief director Vuyo Mbulawa appeared in the Molopo magistrate’s court in Mmabatho with former head of department Lydia Keneilwe Sebego and service provider Roulgh Lotwane Mabe in a R86m tender fraud case. 

During 2008 and 2009, the North West government sought to build two hospitals, the Moses Kotane Hospital and Joe Morolong Hospital. A tender was subsequently awarded to a company belonging to Mabe and another company. 

Service level agreements were signed between the two companies and their directors on services to be rendered to the two hospitals. 

The services were, however, never rendered, while these companies allegedly submitted fraudulent invoices, which were paid by the department after being authorised by Mbulawa. 

In another case dating back more than 15 years, former municipal manager at the Mahikeng local municipality Hennie Smit, 70, appeared in court in connection with the alleged unlawful sale of municipal land to the value of R144m without council approval and ignoring the competitive bidding process. 

In 2007, Smit allegedly illegally agreed with a company for the sale of land belonging to the municipality. 

Three Limpopo municipality officials nabbed

In Limpopo, the Hawks nabbed three former employees at the Sekhukhune district municipality for their alleged involvement in the theft of R5.4m from municipal coffers.

Charles Malema, CFO at the Modimolle-Mookgophong municipality, appeared in the Groblersdal magistrate’s court with Andries Mokgotho, Bongani Masupye, Kedibone Magagane and Sivhadana Murovhi. 

It is alleged Mokgotho, who was expenditure clerk, former expenditure manager Magagane, and Malema, who was CFO at Sekhukhune municipality, directed the payment of R5.4m to Murovhi and Masupye in 2018 but they never rendered services to the municipality.

The monies were supposed to be paid to the three service providers who were rendering security services, collecting water reticulation and the completion of precast VIP toilet structures.

More VBS Bank arrests 

The arrests in relation to alleged illegal investments by municipal officials at VBS Bank continued last year when two former officials at a Limpopo municipality and a commissioning agent for VBS Bank appeared in court in November. 

A director of STG Financial Solutions, Thapelo Molatlhegi, former Lepelle-Nkumpi municipal manager Thabo Ben Mothogoane and former CFO Rosina Mangaka Ngoveni allegedly invested R150m of municipal funds into the mutual bank which was never repaid. 

The MFMA does not allow municipalities to bank with a mutual bank. 

It is alleged Molatlhegi acted as an agent for VBS Bank and received corrupt benefits of more than R2m. Mothogoane allegedly received a Mercedes-Benz worth more than R1m and cash amounting to R100,000. 

The arrest of the three brings to 32 the number of people who have been arrested in relation to alleged unlawful investments in VBS.   

The year also saw a sentence, albeit suspended, imposed on former Thulamela municipality manager Hlengani Emmanuel Maluleke. 

He was sentenced to five years, suspended for the same period, for his role in the approval of an unlawful investment of municipal funds in VBS.

It was not all bad news for the municipality because the R30m illegal investment matured and yielded interest amounting to R735,542. The investment and the interest were paid back to the municipality. 


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