Sipho Mabena

By Sipho Mabena

Premium Journalist

Ex-senior govt official sentenced for fraud and money laundering

The husband and wife team fleeced almost R3 million in fraudulent payments from the Department of Land and Rural Development.

The Nelspruit Regional Court in Mpumalanga has sentenced a former deputy director at the Department of Land and Rural Development and two others to 10 years in prison for fraud and money laundering.

Tenders and fraudulent documents

In 2011 the former civil servant, Grace Mokoka, 46, fraudulently issued an appointment letter to Sadia Trading, a company owned by Thandi Mndawe despite not submitting any tender documents to render any services to the department.

According to the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, also known as the Hawks, the company subsequently received undue payments amounting to almost R3 million [R2 950 000.00] for services never rendered.

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The elite unit’s spokesperson in the province, Lieutenant Colonel Philani Nkwalase, said Mndawe and her business partner, Zenzele Mncwango,52, were later instructed by Mokoka to make cash withdrawals followed by a couple of electronic transfers to another company.

‘Family affair’

He said further cash demands were also made by Sikhumbuzo Nkosi, 45, Mokoka’s husband and a mentor in the same government department.

Mokoka had misrepresented to the department that Sadia Trading CC, had completed infrastructure development work on two portions of the plots included in the Endlovini community land claim in 2012.

Invoices were submitted and payments were made through normal processes, although Sadia Trading had never rendered any services to the community and was not entitled to receive the money.

The matter was investigated after community members alerted the police to the fraud.

Mndawe entered into a plea sentence agreement with the state and she was given a suspended sentence in 2018 and turned state witness to the fraud case against the trio.  

State seizes assets

“[Mokoka, Mncwango and Nkosi] were each sentenced to ten (10) years’ imprisonment for fraud; three of the ten years were suspended for five years with conditions. They were further sentenced to three years imprisonment for money laundering. The trio will each serve effectively ten-years in jail,” Nkwalase said.

During the conviction of the trio, the court also granted preservation orders for a double-story house at Kamagugu, seven vehicles and pension funds of the convicts.

Nkwalase said the elite unit’s Serious Commercial Crime Investigation team based in Nelspruit was able to secure the conviction of the three following a meticulous investigation.

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