Posted on July 26, 2005

Mayor Jailed Over R100m Graft

SAPA (SA), July 25

Bloemfontein — The mayor of Mangaung, his wife and four officials are to spend a night in custody after having appeared in the Bloemfontein magistrate’s court on Monday on charges that included corruption, theft and fraud involving at least R100m.

The Scorpions arrested mayor John Pappie Mokoena, his wife Granny and city manager Mojalefa Laplole, chief operating officer Mzwandile Silwana, speaker Zongezile Zumane as well as Mokoena’s political advisor Jacob Thithi earlier in the day.

The six were ordered to be held overnight after the state and their lawyers could not agree on an amount for bail.

R100 000 bail — each

The state wants bail set at R100 000 each.

The court will hear argument on the issue on Tuesday.

Scorpions and NPA spokesman Makhosini Nkosi said a seventh arrest in Johannesburg was imminent.

“Today’s action follows a Scorpions investigation into allegations (of criminal misconduct) relating to the affairs of the Mangaung Local Municipality, councillors, employees and their associates,” Nkosi said.

Masterminds and aids to fraud and graft

“The people we have arrested this morning are alleged to be masterminding and/or aiding the commission of fraud and corruption and other offences.”

The arrests follow a raid at the offices of the municipality last month, during which the Scorpions confiscated documents, computers and electronic data.

The officials and the woman will face charges of corruption, theft, fraud and contravening a raft of acts, including the Local Government, Municipal Systems, Municipal Finance Management, Income Tax, Value Added Tax Company and Prevention of Organised Crime acts.

African Christian Democratic Party spokesman and city councillor Hendrik Minnie said he did not wish to pre-empt any possible verdict, but that the ANC could have prevented the embarrassment of the arrests if the party had been stricter when the mayor was found guilty of nepotism, “and his smallholding popped up in reports on a Department of Agriculture project.

“We have been silenced in council too often by shouting when we wanted more information on matters that did not seem to be too sound,” Minnie said.