Former Free State human settlements HOD pleads guilty to corruption

Magistrate Rashied Mathews of the Bloemfontein magistrate's court sentenced Mpho Mokoena. File image
Magistrate Rashied Mathews of the Bloemfontein magistrate's court sentenced Mpho Mokoena. File image
Image: 123RFEvgenyi Lastochkin

Former Free State human settlements HOD Mpho Moses Mokoena has been sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for corruption and five years for contravention of the Public Finance Management Act — wholly suspended after he pleaded guilty.

Magistrate Rashied Mathews of the Bloemfontein magistrate’s court sentenced the 61-year-old for the offences committed in 2010/2011.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Phaladi Shuping said Mokoena pleaded guilty to both counts and admitted that he failed to prevent unauthorised, irregular and fruitless expenditure and losses resulting from criminal conduct.

Mokoena stated in his plea that the department advertised a tender in 2010 to build RDP houses for the community. The tender was, however, cancelled.

“The national department of human settlements had allocated about R1.4bn to the department for construction of low-cost housing in the Free State. The department was expected to use the allocated funds in the same financial year for the purposes they were allocated. The funds were to be withdrawn by the National Treasury if not used,” said Shuping.

The department failed to use the funds and presented an expenditure recovery plan to use the allocated funds, which was not in accordance with its business plan.

“The minister and members of the executive council warned the department that their expenditure recovery plan was not accepted and the department was not permitted to use the balance of the allocated budget for the recovery plan, but the department went ahead and authorised the advance payment of at least R500m worth of building equipment and material for projects that still had to commence.”

The state alleged that the advance payment for equipment and materials formed part of a fraudulent scheme conceived by officials in the department to disburse substantial sums of money to selected suppliers and contractors to avoid the funds becoming an unspent conditional allocation.

The national human settlements department and National Treasury had said the unspent allocation should be returned to the National Revenue Fund, to be allocated to provinces with better spending records.

“In the face of that threat, the department proceeded to implement the scheme, disbursing more than R500m from its conditional grant allocation for 2010/2011 with no lawful cause for the payment.

“The contractors did not perform the construction work or only performed portions thereof. The suppliers did not supply materials to the department or supplied only portions. The suppliers were not entitled to receive payments where materials were not supplied and contractors should not have been paid.”  

Shuping said the sentence was wholly suspended on condition that Mokoena was not found guilty of similar offences during the period of suspension.

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