Ex-govt official arrested over ‘looting’ of Gupta mine rehabilitation funds gets R20,000 bail
Joel Raphela had to be rushed to hospital for medical attention during court proceedings.
Joel Raphela, the former DDG of the Department of Mineral Resources, appearing on Thursday at the Randburg Magistrate’s Court. Picture: Supplied.
The former deputy director general (DDG) of the Department of Mineral Resources, arrested in connection with the looting of rehabilitation funds of the Optimum and Koornfontein coal mines, has been granted bail of R20,000.
Joel Raphela appeared before the Randburg Magistrate’s Court on Thursday after he was rushed to hospital during court proceedings on Wednesday for medical attention.
He was arrested on Wednesday alongside former Tegeta Exploration and Resources director, Ronica Ragavan, and the former trustee of Optimum Coal Mine, Pushpaveni Govender.
Ragavan and Govender were each granted bail of R20,000.
The trio face charges of fraud, forgery, uttering, perjury and money laundering.
Mine rehabilitation funds
The charges are in connection with the signing off and illegal utilisation of R107.5 million for mine rehabilitation funds for the Optimum Coal Mine trust account and Koornfontein Mine trust account in 2016.
The mines are linked to the controversial Gupta family.
Raphela, as the former DDG, stands accused of authorising the funds to be released from the Koornfontein Mine rehabilitation trust.
Optimum Coal Mine, Koornfontein Mines and the Guptas’ Tegeta Exploration and Resources were also charged over the matter.
According to the spokesperson for the NPA’s Investigating Directorate (ID), Sindisiwe Seboka, all the accused were furnished with the contents of the docket.
The case was postponed to 22 June 2022 for the adding of further accused.
The ID alleges that the accused orchestrated a scheme where they requested the funds held in the two rehabilitation funds to be transferred into other current company accounts.
They allegedly used the funds for other purposes in breach of the Department of Mineral Resources’ rules.
According to the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA), the minister of mineral resources is expected to keep the rehabilitation funds to deal with rehabilitation and remediation of adverse environmental impact of prospecting, exploration and mining operations when a mine is sold off or closes.
“The holder of the right or permit must ensure that the financial provision is equal to the amount of the actual costs of implementing the plans to rehabilitate the mine and environment for a period of 10 years after the closure of the mine,” Seboka said in a statement.