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Free State health department claims ex-HOD wrongfully charged

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Staff Reporter

The Free State Department of Health says its former head Dr David Motau, who appeared in court on Monday facing several criminal charges together with current and other ex-officials as well as some service providers, was never supposed to be charged because he is the one who raised alarm when the impropriety was initially discovered.

Provincial health spokesperson Mondli Mvambi told The Free Stater that the former head of department has been wrongly implicated in the matter because he is the one who instructed the department to lay criminal charges against employees who were found on the wrong side of the law.

“He has been wrongly implicated,” he said.

Mvambi said Motau, 54, is being charged with inability to discipline people in terms of the Public Finance Management Act.

“We are putting things into context, that’s the only thing we are doing,” the spokesperson said, referring to an earlier statement issued by the health department.

Mvambi claimed the police priority crime investigating unit, the Hawks, had treated Motau unfairly by taking an important document that was supposed to be used for the disciplinary hearings of the implicated staff and never returning it.

“They (the Hawks) took the document that he would have used to discipline people . . . because you can’t just discipline people based on no facts. You have got to sit with the documents,” he said.

“They are not giving it back. You write to them as a department and they don’t even reply.

“And at their own discretion, they come back and arrest you saying you have not done what you were supposed to do, yet they disabled you from doing so.”

In the statement, the department said it found it unfair that Motau had been dragged to court for failing to take disciplinary steps against those who allegedly defrauded the department.

It said the HOD actually instructed the chief financial officer to open a case, which was done at the time.

“At some stage of investigations, the Hawks then took all documentation which made it difficult for the HOD to institute disciplinary processes,” the statement pointed out.

“The former HOD formally requested documents but the Hawks did not provide such documentation to him.

“Whilst the matter is subjudice . . . it is important to provide context and not fall into a trap of generalisation which may unduly impact negatively on the credibility of implicated persons without a proper context.

“It is important to note that not all officials in this case were involved in criminal activities.”

Contacted for comment, Hawks spokesperson Captain Christopher Singo confirmed seeing the statement issued by the provincial health department but chose not to comment on it.

“Our role is to investigate criminal cases or complaints brought before us and once we are done, we then take the matter to the NPA for them to implement the charges against those implicated,” said Singo.

“So, if the provincial health department has any information regarding this case, they have to bring that information before a court of law. We cannot really comment much on that statement.”

In its detailed outline prepared for court, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) insists Motau has a case to answer.

It lists a total of 304 charges for all the accused, now numbering 23, including several companies and their directors who allegedly billed the provincial health department for work that was never done.

Motau alone is facing 44 counts of breaching the PFMA.

Some of the accused include Motsumi Polori, 47, and Kenosi Legobate, 45, who are still employees of the department.

The other former employees include Mietjies Johns, 63, John Chakane, 65, Maria Mabitle, 62, and Lebohang Beqeze.

The service providers include Tsietsi Polori, 47, Thabo Moeti, 39, Mavuso Kwababa, 49, Simon Njonga, 40, and Charity Moloi, 39, who were the directors of the companies into which the money was paid.

The companies include, Tsa Rona Consultancy, Azrago, Land Breeze Trading, Amakholwa Consultancy Training and Zen Communications.

The accused are all out on bail ranging from R2 000 to R5 000 and the case was postponed to September 22 for a High Court date.

The case docket, seen by this publication, states that Motau, as the accounting officer of the provincial health department at the material time, had a legal duty not to contravene the PFMA but failed to do so.

“The accused, unlawfully, wilfully, and or alternatively, in a grossly negligent manner, failed to comply with the provisions of the Public Finance Management Act in relation to the capturing, processing and approval of undue payments . . .” reads part of the docket.

The state lists among others that it was the duty of Motau as the HOD to: ensure that the provincial health department had and maintained an appropriate procurement and provisioning system which is fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost-effective; ensure the effective, efficient, economical and transparent use of the resources of the department; and prevent unauthorised, irregular and/or fruitless and wasteful expenditure as well as any losses arising from criminal conduct.

The NPA says the allegations against the accused are that between January 2011 and December 2015 the officials facilitated and approved payments of claims for services that were not rendered by these companies.

The companies, according to the state, were used by department officials as vehicles to commit the offences because they never rendered any service to the department.

The department processed and approved payments to the total amount of R8.7 million in favour of these companies between January 2011 and December 2015.

At least R2 758 978 was allegedly paid to Tsa Rona, while Siphilile Investment was paid R125 982.00.

Azrago received R97 500 and about R704 520 was paid into the account of Land Breeze Trading.

Amakholwa Consultancy and Zen Communications were paid R1 508 462 and R3 565 868 respectively.

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Municipal manager facing tender fraud charges granted bail

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THE ACCUSED . . . Maluti-a-Phofung municipal manager Futhuli Patrick Mothamaha is out on bail

Maluti-a-Phofung municipal manager Futhuli Patrick Mothamaha, 49, was on Friday released on a bail of R500 000 by the Phuthaditjhaba Magistrates Court after he was arrested by The Hawks for fraud, corruption and Contravention of the Municipal Finance Management Act.

The state alleges that he allegedly awarded a contract of R58 million to Kill Crime Security Company in 2020 without following proper procurement processes.

National Prosecuting Authority regional spokesperson Phaladi Shuping said Mothamaha allegedly signed a service level agreement on May 19, 2020, appointing the company to render security services to the municipality for a period of three months without following procurement processes.

“The municipality continued to pay Kill Crime Security Company for almost two years without a contract,” said Shuping.

He said Mothamaha was supposed to appear with his co-accused, father and daughter who are the owners of Kill Crime Security, Thabiso, 55, and Dimakatso Sekhosana, 29, on Monday after they were instructed by The Hawks to hand themselves over on Sunday, but he failed to do so.

The Sekhosanas appeared on Monday facing similar charges and were released on bail of R150 000 each.

Part of Mothamaha’s bail conditions are that he must not enter the offices of the municipality, not interfere with the investigations nor intimidate witnesses.

The case was postponed to September 30 for further investigations. – Staff Reporter

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Six nabbed for alleged theft of network batteries

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NABBED . . .  The six men believed to have stolen network batteries and damaged critical infrastructure

 Six men were due to appear in the Marquard Magistrates Court on Friday after being found in possession of eight network batteries believed to have been stolen.

Police spokesperson for the eastern Free State, Warrant Officer Mmako Mophiring, said the suspects were arrested following a joint effort by members of the SA Police Service, private security and farmers.

He said police received information from the community at about 3am last Wednesday saying some unknown men were digging up network boxes and cutting copper inside a manhole.

“The police activated and mobilised other members and arrested the first suspect who is a foreign national near a filling station while sitting inside a vehicle,” said Mophiring.

The man was arrested for possession of suspected stolen property after eight network power box batteries were found in his possession and failed to properly account for them.

While pursuing the matter with the help of some farmers, the police received information at about 8am that some five men were trying to hitch-hike near a certain farm to Senekal.

“The team quickly responded and arrested the three suspects who were successfully linked to the initially arrested suspect. Two other suspects managed to escape but were chased and arrested near a farm going to Senekal. Four of the six suspects are Illegal immigrants and two are South Africans,” he explained.

The six are aged between 23 and 30 years of age.

They are facing charges of contravening the Immigration Act, possession of suspected stolen property and damage of infrastructure.

Provincial Police Commissioner Lieutenant General Baile Motswenyane applauded the community and the team for the prompt arrests and urged them to “continue working together to fight crime”.

Meanwhile, three suspected armed robbers were sniffed out of their hideout in Thaba Nchu near Serwalo on Thursday morning following a petrol station robbery.

Police spokesperson in Mangaung, Sergeant Mahlomola Kareli, said in a separate statement four armed robbers arrived at the petrol garage just after midnight on Wednesday and threatened the security guard with a firearm before tying him up with wire and fleeing the scene with a undisclosed amount of cash and cans of motor vehicle oil.

The suspects demanded keys from the guard and gained access to the back offices.

And while others were busy helping themselves to the oil cans and cigarettes, others were busy grinding the safe to access the money inside.

The four then left the security guard with his hands and feet tightly fastened with a wire.

The guard was only rescued by staff starting duty at 5am.

The matter was reported to the police and a case of armed robbery was opened at Thaba Nchu Police Station and a manhunt was launched.

Luck ran out for three of the suspects aged between 38 and 40 after they were traced and found near Serwalo in Thaba Nchu at about 2am on Thursday and were arrested.

They were found with an undisclosed amount of money suspected to have been stolen during the robbery.

One suspect remains at large.

The three were due to appear in the Thaba Nchu Magistrates Court on Friday for business robbery. – Staff Reporter

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Garden scissor attacker nabbed

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THE CRIME TOOL . . . A 64-year-old man allegedly used this garden scissor to attack a man and his family

A 64-year-old man has been arrested after stabbing one person in the stomach with a broken garden scissor and injuring the victim’s family while holding them hostage.

Police say they were called to a place in Verkeerdevlei on Wednesday evening where a person had been stabbed in the stomach.

Upon arrival, they found a 53-year-old man who had been stabbed in the stomach with the broken scissor.

The suspect had already fled the scene.

“The victim was taken to hospital for medical treatment,” said Captain Stephen Thakeng in a brief statement.

Further investigations revealed that the same suspect went to the house of the victim’s 36-year-old daughter house where he held her and her two children – aged 13 and 15 – hostage.

“Tactical Response Team (TRT) members from Park Road were activated at about 21:30 and it was realised that the suspect was holding (the family) hostage in a three-roomed shack,” said Thakeng.

“The TRT members gained entry into the shack and rescued the three from the suspect.

“The three victims were also stabbed with the same half part of the big scissor.”

The suspect is facing a charge of attempted murder and three counts of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

He will appear in the Verkeerdevlei Magistrates Court soon.

THE CRIME TOOL . . . A 64-year-old man allegedly used this garden scissor to attack a man and his family

Meanwhile, a man believed to be terrorising tuckshop owners around Bothaville was arrested on Wednesday following a tip-off by community members.

Police say they received information about a man with a firearm and who might be involved in robberies of tuck shops of foreign nationals at about 16:30.

The suspect’s house in Kgotsong was identified and members of Bothaville Crime Prevention approached it and asked for permission to search the place.

They were granted permission and a 9mm pistol was found and a 27-year-old man from Potchefstroom was arrested for possession of an unlicensed firearm.

The suspect will appear in the Bothaville Magistrates Court soon. – Staff Reporter

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