News / South Africa

Ilse de Lange
2 minute read
17 Jan 2018
6:31 am

Ex-Scorpions chief off the hook

Ilse de Lange

He would have had to steal the money from himself, says high court judge.

Picture: Thinkstock

The former investigating director of the Scorpions, Jeff Ledwaba, who was in 2015 convicted of theft and fraud and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment, has been acquitted on appeal.

Judge Zeenat Carelse and Acting Judge Andre Petersen in the high court upheld Ledwaba’s appeal against his conviction on two charges of fraud and four of theft in the Commercial Crimes Court and set aside his conviction and sentence.

Ledwaba was in 2015 convicted of defrauding the Directorate of Special Operations’ C-Fund by submitting false claims and stealing money from a business trust involving more than R934 000. He resigned from the Scorpions in 2005. His name was struck off the roll of advocates in 2014 after an application by the Society of Advocates.

Ledwaba was found guilty of defrauding the DSO C-Fund by putting in an advance claim for R45 000 in a drug bust operation and only paying the money back several months later. He was also found guilty of defrauding the C-Fund with R180 000 that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) alleged was claimed on behalf of an informant they suspected never existed.

The theft charges centred on payments for consultancy work Ledwaba did for the Gauteng safety and security department, initially in partnership with his brother-in-law, but later on his own. His brother-in-law never laid the theft charges and Ledwaba declared the income to the SA Revenue Service, meaning that he would have had to steal the money from himself, the judge said.

One of the main witnesses against Ledwaba was former top NPA official Lawrence Mrwebi, who was later struck off the roll. Judge Carelse said Mrwebi’s evidence was filled with contradictions and inconsistencies and was premised on an attack on Ledwaba’s character.

Mrwebi, who conceded that he had lied in his evidence, claimed Ledwaba had a personal vendetta against him. The judge said it appeared the state’s case was based on speculation and assumptions on which the magistrate relied for a conviction.

– ilsedl@citizen.co.za

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