The Eastern Cape Health MEC, Sindiswa Gomba, and eleven others appeared in court on Friday, February 12 on charges of corruption, money laundering and fraud. The case was in connection with the allegedly stolen R10 million from the municipality in pretence that it will be used for Former President Nelson Mandela‘s funeral in December 2013.
It is alleged that an amount of 5,9 million was transferred to the accused, a day after Mandela‘s death the Buffalo City Municipality (BCM) manager, Andile Fani, halted further payment of 4,1 million. They were charged together with Viwe Vazi and Mati‘s respective Companies, Forty Wings Lodge CC and Mpidos Emergence and Training CC.
According to a statement released by the National Prosecuting Authority, before the municipality had an opportunity to officially consider procurement of services for the funeral, Mkolo agreed with the service provider, Mzwandile Sokwali, from Victory Ticket 750 CC that they 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, 5 million.”
It added that it is alleged that the BCM officials acted with common purpose to defraud and manipulate municipal procurement processes through illegal deviation to ensure the appointment of Victory tickets.
They are also charged with contravention of the Municipal Finance Management Act.
Further, Nkuhlu, Mati and her company, Mpidos, received proceeds of unlawful activities as arranged between Mkolo and Sokwali. The plan was to defraud the municipality of the funding available for the transportation of mourners to various venues where memorial services were to be held.
In December 2014, Sokwali and his company, Victory Ticket, pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering after entering a plea and sentence agreement with the state. He was fined R100 000, with R50 000 suspended, and sentenced to five years imprisonment. The eleven were granted bail on condition that they surrender their passports to the investigating officer, do not commit any other offence while on bail, do not communicate with witnesses; and must report to investigating officer by phone every Sunday.
The case was postponed to 05 March 20221 for the defence to obtain copies of the docket and for the outstanding suspects to appear in court.