Two women and one man appeared at the Wepener District Court on Thursday, on charges of corruption. This comes after Maria Thato Ramona (39), was arrested after she allegedly smuggled a boy (12) into South Africa from Lesotho.
According to Hawks spokesperson, Warrant Officer Lynda Steyn, Ramona (39), appeared before the Wepener District Court on Thursday, 13 February 2020. “The boy was apparently from a local school in Mafeteng, Lesotho reportedly on his way to visit his aunt in Bloemfontein when he met Ramona near the taxi rank. Ramona allegedly convinced the boy that she was also on her way to Bloemfontein, she then paid for the boy’s taxi fare from Lesotho and assisted him to cross the border illegally,” said Steyn.
Steyn added that the boy was still dressed in his school uniform when he was spotted by a motorist from Lesotho at the hiking spot in Wepener after he recognised the school uniform. “The suspect was approached by motorists and she could not explain the reason for the boy being in her company. Ramona was consequently arrested and the boy taken to a place of safety. The suspect appeared before the Wepener District Court and the case was postponed until 25 February 2020 for a formal bail application,” she added.
Meanwhile on Friday, 14 February 2020 a 56-year-old man, Ramona’s husband allegedly contacted a Hawks’ investigator in the case and offered to pay her money for the charges to be dropped against his wife. “On Monday, 17 February 2020 a lady made contact with the Investigating officer and explained that she was sent by Ramona’s husband to hand over the money. The supposed cash-drop lady was in the company of another 31 years old lady during the transaction where an amount of R2000 was paid over to the investigator, following which the two ladies were arrested and their cell phones seized,” explained Steyn.
The husband was also arrested following an investigation by the Hawks’ Serious Corruption team. The husband and the two women appeared at the Wepener District Court on Thursday, 20 February 2020 for alleged corruption. Ramona will make her second appearance on 24 February 2020.