Mandela funeral graft: MEC faces the chop

AFRICAN MIRROR REPORTER

EASTERN Cape MEC for Health, Sindiswa Gomba, the highest ranking politician to be arrested for embezzling millions meant for Nelson Mandela’s funeral faces serious political consequences.

Following the appearance in court of Gomba and 10 others, her boss, the Eastern Cape Premier Lubabalo Oscar Mabuyane, expressed his concern and said he was applying his  mind.

Mabuyane said: “I view criminal charges against our Health MEC very seriously. Now that she has been charged by the NPA & was released on bail, I will look into this matter & will soon communicate my decision to the people of EC (Eastern Cape).”

It is expected that Mabuyane will, in line with resolutions of the ANC, request Gomba to recuse herself from official duties.

Gomba appeared in court yesterday, 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 sto 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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