Fired Eastern Cape Health remains an MPL

AFRICAN MIRROR REPORTER

EASTERN Cape MEC for Health, Sindiswa Gomba, who was fired from her job after she appeared in court for embezzling millions meant for Nelson Mandela’s funeral, remains a member of the provincial legislature.

Eastern Cape Premier Lubabalo Oscar Mabuyane axed Gomba yesterday following her recent appearance in court, with 10 others suspects. He appointed Xolile Nqatha, the current MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, to act as MEC of Health until a new appointment is made.

Mabuyane said the decision would allow Gomba to focus on the charges against her. “The decision is the best interest of the MEC and the people of the province.”

He said he wanted to preside over a clean government. “We want to preside over a clean 6th administration and deal decisively with chronic problems that have actually been paralysing the administration of our province for some time,” he said.

The Premier also announced that Dr Thobile Mbengashe, the former head of the department of health in the Eastern Cape, would be subjected to a disciplinary committee over the department’s decision to spend R10-million to purchase motorcycle “ambulances”. The Premier’s decision follows recommendations of the Special Investigations Unit.  

Gomba appeared in court last week, with 10 fellow accused and was released on bail of R1000 each.

The 11, who include high ranking ANC provincial politicians, were charged with corruption, money laundering, fraud and a contravention of the Municipal Finance Management Act. 

Those who were arrested and stood in the dock with Gomba are: Phumzile Mkolo, Zukiswa Veronica Ncitha, Themba Tinta, Luleka Simon-Ndzele, Sindiswa Gomba, Tembelani Prideaux Sali, Ondela Vatile Mahlangu, Viwe Vazi, Zintle Nkuhlu (a trustee of the Lilly Rose Trust), Nosiphiwo Mati and Nqaba Ludidi were granted bail by the East London Regional Court. 

According to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the eleven were released on condition that they surrender their passports to the investigating officer; don’t commit any other offence while on bail; don’t communicate with witnesses; and must report by to the investigating officer by phone every Sunday.

The NPA said the individuals were charged together with Vazi and Mati’s respective companies, Forty Wings Lodge CC and Mpidos Emergence and Training CC. Another suspect, Dean William Fanoe, whose company, Mantella Trading 522 CC, will also be charged, did not appear in court as he is adhering to Covid 19 protocols.  

“It is alleged that following the death of South African icon and former president of the country, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, on 05 December 2013, a scheme was hatched by the accused to swindle the BCM of R10m. Although R5.9m was successfully transferred to them, the municipal manager, Andile Fani, halted further payment of R4.1m.  

Detailing the charges against the 11 and the respective companies, the NPA said: 

“On 06 December 2013, before the BCM had an opportunity to officially consider procurement of services for the funeral, Mkolo agreed with a service provider, Mzwandile Sokwali from Victory Ticket 750 CC (Victory Ticket), that Victory Ticket would submit an inflated quotation for the transportation of mourners to various venues. Sokwali was also asked to obtain a quotation from another service provider, for an amount more than Victory Ticket’s quotation. This was done and MNI Transport also submitted a quotation to the value of R10 580 000.  

“It is alleged that the BCM officials acted with a common purpose to defraud and manipulate municipal procurement processes through illegal deviation in order to ensure the appointment of Victory Ticket. Further, Nkuhlu, Mati and her company, Mpidos, received proceeds of unlawful activities, as arranged between Mkolo and Sokwali. 

“The plan was, firstly, to mislead the BCM council into accepting that it was expected of the BCM to make funding available for the transportation of mourners to various venues where memorial services were to be held.  Then, to manipulate the situation so that funding could be used for other purposes than for what they officially were approved for. 

“In December 2014, Sokwali and his company, Victory Ticket, pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering after entering into a plea and sentence agreement with the state. He was fined R100 000, with R50 000 suspended, and sentenced to five years imprisonment wholly suspected for five years.”

The NPA outlined the following bail conditions for the 11. They must:

  • Surrender their passports to the investigating office.
  • Not commit any other offence while on bail.
  • Not communicate with witnesses.
  • Report by phoning the investigating officer every Sunday. 

The matter was postponed to 05 March 2021 for the defence to obtain copies of the docket and for the outstanding suspect to appear in court.

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