Accused in FS Human Settlements fraud case rise to 8

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Three more people have been arrested for their alleged role in defrauding the Free State Department of Human Settlements of R7,9 million over a 2-year span.

OFM News reports, Free State Hawks Spokesperson, Christopher Singo, says Senki Samuel Ketlhoilwe, Thwala Caroline Letanta, and Vincent Eric Beans, who are between the ages of 51 and 55 years old, appeared before the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Monday 16 August 2021 after being arrested this past weekend and on early Monday morning. They were released on bail of between R1500 and R2000.

The suspects include former Human Settlement Department officials, who allegedly received gratuities to the tune of R520 000 from several service providers in exchange for their assistance in facilitating false and undue payments from the department, running into millions. Singo says during 2011 and 2012, the officials who were stationed in the provincial department’s Payment Authorisation Section, identified defunct housing projects from 2008/9 that still had some budget left over, using the housing subsidy system. They then processed false claims from various service providers to the tune of R7,9 million in exchange for the aforementioned R520 000 they were given. The millions processed for the service providers came from the defunct housing projects’ remaining budget.

The other suspects have been identified as Ketlhwoecoeng Mildred Setlaba, Motebang Frank Mokoena, Sarah Bantikile Saila, Muso David Makae, Meshack Modise Tlokotsi, and Thato Goodwill Sempe.  The latter group appeared before the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Thursday 12 August 2021, following their arrest, and were released on R5 000 bail each. The matter is scheduled to resume on 3 September.

The aforementioned department has in the last few years come under intense national scrutiny with respect to the R255 million asbestos housing audit project. Some of the high profilers that are accused in that matter include former ANC Secretary-General (SG) Ace Magashule; Limpopo businessman Edwin Sodi; former Mangaung Metro Mayor Olly Mlamleli; the former head of the Free State Department of Human Settlements, Nthimotse Mokhesi; the Director for Supply Chain Management at Human Settlements, Mahlomola John Matlakala; a businessman residing in Johannesburg, Sello Joseph Radebe; a Pretoria businessman, Abel Kgotso Manyeki; and the former Director-General for the National Department of Human Settlements, Thabane Wiseman Zulu, amongst others.

It is reported that Sodi was irregularly awarded the housing audit tender via his joint venture with Diamond Hill Trading, owned by murdered Welkom businessman, Igo Mpambani, by the Free State Human Settlements Department in 2014. Not only was the tender irregular but it is reported that kickbacks were given to some of the accused. The implicated group is facing more than 70 counts of fraud, theft, attempted theft, corruption, and money laundering. Following their arrests, the suspects were released on bail of R50 000 to R500 000.

The Bloemfontein High Court has postponed pre-trial proceedings for the high-profile asbestos housing audit criminal case, to 19 October 2021.

OFM News/Olebogeng Motse