More charges on the cards for accused in R400 million SA Express tender fraud scandal

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More charges on the cards for accused in R400 million SA Express tender fraud scandal
More charges on the cards for accused in R400 million SA Express tender fraud scandal

Africa-Press – South-Africa. Four people and three companies accused of fraud and corruption in connection with a R400 million SA Express tender could face additional charges.

Tebogo van Wyk, 40; Nothando Dube, 44; Sipho Levy Phiri, 39; Thabang Mahlakoleng, 54; and the companies, Batsamai Investment Holdings, Sevilex Investment Holdings, and Lavao, Estevao (Pty) Ltd, appeared in the Molopo Magistrate’s Court in the North West on Thursday.

The case was postponed to 30 March 2023, for an application to the office of the National Director of Public Prosecutions for racketeering charges to be added, according to National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Henry Mamothame.

The Hawks arrested them in September and charged them with 34 counts that include fraud, corruption, money laundering and contravention of the Public Finance Management Act.

Van Wyk is out on R500 000 bail, Dube on R35 000 bail, Phiri on R150 000 bail and Mahlakoleng on R50 000 bail.

In 2014, the North West government embarked on a process to reintroduce commercial aircraft to the province’s two airports in Mahikeng and Pilanesberg on an estimated subsidy of R400 million, according to Mamothame.

He said the provincial government appointed SA Express as a service provider, but that it allegedly did not follow the proper supply chain management processes.

“The irregularly secured agreement is said to have been signed by the four accused. Mahlakoleng signed on behalf of the Department of Transport as the then-accounting officer in his capacity as the head of the department. The deal was riddled with procurement irregularities, and monies were paid for the services not rendered,” Mamothame added.

Mamothame said: “R183 million was paid to SA Express between 2015 and 2017 for the services rendered by the ground management companies, which Van Wyk, Dube and Phiri are linked to.”

Mamothame added:

All companies appointed to do the ground handling services were indirectly owned by Dube and Phiri, Mamothame added.

“The irregularities prejudiced the North West government of millions of rand that could have been directed to service delivery.

“The case was recommended for investigation by the Zondo Commission, and the DPCI (Hawks) will continue the investigations as recommended. This will be conducted in phases, with a possibility of more charges and arrests being [effected],” he said.

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