Former Lepelle Northern Water Board Chief Executive Officer, Phineas Legodi, returns to court on Monday following his arrest for alleged involvement in fraud.
The Hawks arrested Legodi, the board’s chairperson of the Bid Evaluation Committee (BEC), Gwako Micheal Moseamedi, and businessman, Emanuel Matome Sefalafala, more than a week ago.
They have been in jail since.
On Thursday, more accused were added in the R45 million tender fraud case.
They will be applying for bail at the Polokwane Magistrate Court today.
The seven, including a construction firm, Falaz General Trading and Construction (Pty) Ltd, face charges of fraud, alternatively theft, forgery and uttering, with Legodi facing an additional charge of contravention of the Public Finance Management Act.
“It is alleged that in 2018, the Lepelle Northern Water Board advertised a tender in the Limpopo Province for the collection, removal and disposal of hazardous waste management in 2018. Legodi was the CEO, an accounting officer of the Lepelle Northern Water Board, at the time,” says the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
Based on the recommendations of the BEC, chaired by Moseamedi, and the Bid Adjudication Committee (BAC), Legodi appointed Sefalafala’s company, Falaz General Trading and Construction, to render services.
Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, has welcomed the arrests, saying she hopes other cases involving officials in the Eastern and Western Capes are finalised soon.
She has dismissed claims that South Africa’s water boards are riddled with corruption.
“The vast majority of our water boards are run by men and women who are determined to ensure that our boards achieve their mandate of delivering water to South Africans,” she says.
She, however, added that her department will not have mercy on officials who are implicated in graft.
“We have a responsibility as civil servants to serve our people with honour and dignity. This is what we owe our forebears who sacrificed so much for us to have this freedom we enjoy today,” she says.
Legodi resigned as the CEO of Lepelle Water Board in August after losing a court battle to have his precautionary suspension set aside.
He was facing insubordination and maladministration at the time.
The Hawks have made the unit’s first Eastern Cape arrest regarding the misappropriation of COVID-19 funds.
Pumza Gambula (49) appeared before the Mthatha Magistrate’s Court early on Thursday on two fraud charges, amounting to R4.8 million.
The OR Tambo District Municipality contracted Gambula’s company, Phathilizwi Training Institute, to conduct COVID-19 door-to-door community awareness workshops.
While the company did visit residents of Mhlontlo and Port St John’s Local Municipalities, they allegedly never conducted the workshops that they have submitted invoices for. They instead allegedly asked community members to write down their names for COVID-19 social grants.
The prosecuting team says attendance registers attached to the invoices as proof of services rendered contained names of people who were not staying in some of the wards that were visited by the accused as part of their “door-to-door awareness campaign.
These documents were widely circulated on social media and sparked a public outcry.
Gambula was never paid for the R3 036 000 and R1 821 600 invoices she submitted between March and June. However, the state says the municipality stood to suffer a potential prejudice by means of the said false pretenses.
Gambula has been granted R20 000 bail and is due back in court next week Friday.
The court has ordered her to hand over her passport to the investigating officer and report to Madeira Police Station twice a week until the trial is finalised.
Nine senior police officers and three civilians accused of colluding to issue a tender to install 1 550 police motor vehicles with warning lights, known as blue lights, at a grossly inflated price will return to court next month.
The company that won the 2017 deal, represented by its sole director Vimphie Mantatha, is also listed as a respondent in the case, bringing the total number of suspects to 13.
The state alleges that during the procurement process, the accused disregarded the competitive bidding process; committing SAPS to R191 million in favour of Manthatha’s company in exchange for benefits.
“The tap was turned off after R65 million was paid to the service provider, ‘Instrumentation for Traffic Law Enforcement (Pty) Ltd. Payment of the remaining R22 million was stopped as a direct result of the work of IPID investigators working with SAPS and the Hawks investigators under the leadership of the Investigating Directorate,” says the NPA’s Investigating Directorate.
The 13 accused face charges of corruption, fraud and money laundering.
“IPID remains committed in its constitutional mandate of investigating any alleged police misconduct, once more our seasoned investigators have done a commendable job’’ IPID Executive Director Jennifer Ntlatseng has said.
National Police Commissioner Kehla Sitole has thrown his weight behind the investigating teams.
“My position regarding criminality by members within the ranks of the SAPS has been made clear by the arrest of a multitude of SAPS members by a task team reporting to me on investigations into vehicle-marking-tender fraud as well as our support to the ID in respect of the blue-light-tender fraud investigation,” says Sitole.
Former acting National Police Commissioner, Khomotso Phahlane and former Gauteng Provincial Police Commissioner Deliwe de Lange are among the accused in the blue lights matter.
Their trial is set down for the 16th of November to the 10th of December.
The Hawks in Limpopo arrested the 47-year-old last week.
Spokesperson Captain Matimba Maluleke says her arrest follows a complaint of fraud from Mtititi community, outside Malamulele.
Residents accused the suspect of having claimed R3.2 million COVID-19 social relief funds from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) on behalf of her 242 former Malamulele based Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP) workers.
However, the workers were allegedly never paid.
The crime was allegedly committed between April and August 2020.
Hawks says investigations revealed that the workers’ contracts were terminated before the President declared a COVID-19 lockdown.
The funds from which the suspect is accused of having claimed from are meant for workers who had been affected by the lockdown.
The suspect has been remanded in custody.
She will return to court next week Monday for a formal bail application. – Report by Tshepo Maeko from Radio Turf