Africa-Press – South-Africa. Four people appeared in the Molopo Magistrate’s Court in the North West on Friday in connection with a R400-million tender fraud case relating to SA Express.
Tebogo van Wyk, Nothando Dube, Sipho Levy Phiri and Thabang Mohlokoleng are facing 34 charges, alongside three companies, Batsamai Investment Holdings, Sevilex Investment Holdings, and Lavao Estevao (Pty) Ltd.
The charges range from fraud, corruption, money laundering, and violation of the Public Finance Management Act. The four accused were granted bail on Friday.
They are accused of unduly benefitting from irregular payments to the tune of millions of rands.
Van Wyk was granted R500 000 bail and Dube R35 000. Phiri and Mohlokoleng were released on R150 000 and R50 000 bail, respectively.
Their bail conditions include surrendering their passports and attending their next court appearance on 1 December.
Hawks spokesperson Colonel Katlego Mogale said Mohlokoleng indicated that his passport was missing.
According to Mogale, in 2014, the North West government embarked on a process of reintroducing commercial flights to the province’s two airports, Mahikeng and Pilanesberg, in a deal that was estimated to be around R400 million.
She said R183 million was allegedly paid to SA Express between 2015 and 2017 for services rendered by the ground management companies, which Van Wyk, Dube and Phiri are linked to.
“The State alleges that… an amount of R51 million was channelled irregularly through the charged companies.
“The North West government allegedly appointed SA Express as a service provider to render the service, but this was done without following the proper supply chain management processes.
SA’s CemAir eyes African expansion – with flights to Tanzania, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Mauritius
“The irregularly secured agreement is said to have been signed by the four accused. Mohlokoleng signed on behalf of the Department of Transport as the then-accounting officer in his capacity as the head of department.
“The deal was riddled with procurement irregularities, and monies were paid for services not rendered. All companies appointed to do the ground handling services were indirectly owned by Dube and Phiri,” said Mogale.
“The irregularities prejudiced the North West government to the tune of millions of rands that could have been directed to service delivery.”
Mogale said the case was investigated following a recommendation by the Zondo Commission.
She said the Hawks would continue the investigation. Mogale added that it would be conducted in phases, with the possibility of more charges and arrests.