The NPA’s Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) on Wednesday was granted an asset protection order by the Free State High Court in Bloemfontein in a fraud and corruption case related to the R249 million Estina dairy farm case.
The order was granted against businesswoman Lenah Mohapi, 55, and her business, Superior Quality Trading, as well as Seipati Sylvia Dhlamini, 49, former chief financial officer (CFO) of the Free State Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The assets are said to be properties and vehicles. Based on their purchase price the assets are worth about R7 million.
NPA spokesperson Sipho Ngwema said Mohapi and Dhlamini were arrested in July last year and subsequently appeared in court after a joint investigation by the Hawks and prosecutors from the NPA in the province.
“In September, they were joined in court by the head of the department, Mbana Thabethe, 54, as well as Lerato Mngomezulu, 39, Disebo Masiteng, 59, Mokemane Ndumo, 52, and Mahlomola Mofokeng, 55. All members of the department’s bid adjudication committee,” Ngwema said in a statement.
They collectively face 54 counts of forgery, uttering, fraud, corruption and money laundering to the value of R249 million.
Ngwema said they were all out on bail of R10,000.
The matter was discovered during a financial flow analysis of Estina’s bank accounts, which showed irregularities and disguised payments to one of the officials.
“It is alleged that the government officials gave a number of contracts to a company called Superior Quality Trading, which also trades as Rekgonne Community Projects, even though this company did not attend any of the department’s compulsory briefing sessions.
“The company also had a certificate of attendance even though it was not present at the compulsory briefing where these certificates were issued. Between 2012 and 2016, the department is said to have paid more than R244m to the company.”
It is further alleged that Mohapi, the director of Superior Quality Trading, paid huge sums of money into the account of Dlamini. The payments were allegedly disguised as refunds to Telkom SA and Medical services.