Thursday, March 17, 2011

Premier Mokonyane's Official Residence Costs

DA asks protector to probe Mokonyane's house

March 17, 2011 

The Gauteng DA has asked the Public Protector to investigate allegedly expensive refurbishments to premier Nomvula Mokonyane's official residence, says spokesman Jack Bloom. 

"I have today requested the Public Protector to investigate the apparent excessive amount spent on refurbishment of the official residence of the Gauteng premier which is in the northern Johannesburg suburb of Bryanston," Bloom said in a statement on Thursday
The Star newspaper reported that the house had been bought for R11.5 million in 2004 when it was only a few years old.
Since then about R12.2 million had allegedly been spent on refurbishments and repairs.
Bloom said the appointment of some of the contractors might have contravened the Public Finance Management Act, and the Gauteng government might have over-paid for renovations and been ripped off by contractors.
"I will also request that members of the Gauteng Legislature's Infrastructure Development Committee conduct a site inspection of the renovations that have been done to this house.
"We cannot afford to waste money on luxuries when ordinary people suffer with the cost of living," Bloom said.

Ex-MEC Arrested in R100m Fraud Bust

Ex-MEC arrested in R100m fraud bust

March 2, 2011

Four political high-flyers linked to a scandal involving theft and fraud from a R100-million fund meant for poor farmers will appear in the Pretoria Commercial Crimes Court. 

The four were yesterday arrested by the elite police unit, the Hawks, following a lengthy investigation dating back to 2008.
Hawks spokesman McIntosh Polela said the four - who include former Land Bank CEO Phil Mohlahlane and former Gauteng housing MEC Dan Mofokeng - were implicated in an investigation relating to R14-million that was transferred from the AgriBEE fund to a firm of attorneys.
Two of the men were arrested in Polokwane, another in Bela Bela, and the fourth handed himself in at the Brooklyn police station.
In 2009, the Sunday Times exposed how Mohlahlane and Mofokeng allegedly diverted money from the AgriBEE fund - meant for cash-strapped black farmers - to buy fancy cars and houses.
In October 2009 the paper exposed how Mofokeng allegedly bought a Mercedes-Benz CLS55 AMG with cash, and a R2-million luxury home in Six Fountains, near Pretoria, with money from the fund, and how a majority shareholder in a farm project in Limpopo received R6.5-million from the fund.
Mohlahlane, who was both head of the agriculture department section that approved AgriBEE project funding and acting CEO of the Land Bank when money from the fund was disbursed, allegedly used money from the fund to pay cash for a R2.7-million home in Kyalami.
The fund also paid for another R6.4-million farm in Limpopo, which was transferred to Mohlahlane's sister-in-law, Jessica Mojanaga.
The allegations were first contained in a July 2008 forensic report by Pricewaterhousecoopers and then handed over to police.
Land Bank spokesman Musa Mchunu said the matter was being handled by the Hawks and that they would not be commenting at this stage.
The four will appear on charges relating to fraud, theft and money laundering.


Ex-Land Bank CEO Arrested for False Qualifications.

Ex-Land Bank CEO arrested for false qualifications

March 17, 2011 

Former Land Bank chief executive Philemon Mohlahlane was arrested for the second time this month by the Hawks in Polokwane, for charges related to the alleged falsification of his qualifications. 


Hawks spokesman McIntosh Polela said the 56-year-old former Land Bank chief executive had been arrested on charges of fraud and uttering.
"A suspect allegedly submitted fraudulent documents when he applied for and held several high ranking government jobs," Polela said.
The posts he had held were head of the department of the Free State provincial governemnt, chief executive of the Land Bank and chief executive of the Limpopo Agricultural Development Corporation (LADC). He was axed from the LADC post last year after about two months in the position. His employment at the time was controversial as it followed his suspension form the Land Bank.
His axing from the LADC followed a forensic report by Pricewaterhouse Coopers which apparently uncovered many irregularities. The LADC appointed him over 22 other candidates apparently without consulting the provincial agriculture MEC Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba or Limpopo premier Cassel Mathale.
The Polokwane Observer newspaper reported last November that an external auditing firm had found that Mohlahlane, who had claimed the title of doctor, did not pass matric and that his degree from the United States was bogus.
Polela said on Thursday that according to the information in the Hawks' possession Mohlahlane had written his matric exam in 1974, but had in fact failed.
Earlier this month Mohlahlane was released on bail in connection with charges of defrauding the Land Bank of R14 million.
He is expected to appear in the Polokwane Magistrate's Court later on Thursday.

Police Face Probe after Family Shooting

Police face probe after family shooting....

March 16 2011 

Johannesburg - Johannesburg metro police are investigating some of their own officers for allegedly opening fire on a family car, wounding a woman in Midrand.
“About 12 hours ago we received a report about metro officers who shot at a family in a car on Sunday night,” Senior Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said on Wednesday.
The wife of the driver was in a serious condition in hospital. The circumstances around the shooting were being investigated.
Minnaar said his department managed to track one of the police cars and linked several officers to the shooting, which occurred at the corner of Alexandra Road and Smuts Avenue in Midrand at around 7pm.
“The matter is being investigated by JMPD and SAPS as police brutality will not be tolerated.” 

Shaik to Remain on Parole

Shaik to remain on parole

March 17 2011 

After two days in prison, fraudster Schabir Shaik was back in the comfort of his own bed last night.
He was released by the Correctional Services Department after it said it could not find any evidence to prove he had violated his parole conditions.
This followed an investigation by the department into Shaik’s alleged assault of Mohammed Ismail at the Masjid Al-Hilal mosque in Overport after prayers last Friday.
On Wednesday, Durban criminal lawyer Carl van der Merwe described how he had spent two full days with Shaik at a hearing of the investigation committee on Tuesday and then all day yesterday, waiting for the outcome.
“I can tell you that his blood pressure was sky-high. He needed medication. He was in the hospital section, but he was still in a cell. The only difference is that there were nurses available to give him treatment,” he said.
The committee, comprising three senior correctional services officers, held a full-blown investigation and considered statements.
Van der Merwe was told at 6.05pm that a release order had been granted.
“You don’t get reasons, but I believe they found there was no justification (for cancelling his parole) at this stage. The evidence was just not there,” he said.
However, Van der Merwe said the parole panel did not have the final say.
“There are grounds for review and there are legal remedies.”
He said Shaik was “obviously very relieved” when he heard the news of his release.
Shaik travelled from prison in a white bakkie with tinted windows. Security staff were waiting at his Morningside, Durban, home and as soon as the bakkie entered the property they drove into the driveway, blocking it.
At a briefing at Westville prison, correctional services regional commissioner Mnikelwa Nxele said Shaik was sent to prison given the fact that the Ismail assault allegation came a few days after the department had concluded its investigation into his alleged assault of Sunday Tribune journalist Amanda Khoza.
Khoza charged Shaik arising from her attempts to investigate whether he was breaking his parole conditions by playing golf on a Saturday two weeks ago.
Shaik told The Mercury on Sunday that reports that he had assaulted a fellow worshipper were half-truths and, on Monday, the Daily News reported that three witnesses would back Shaik’s version of events.
On Wednesday, Nxele said they had concluded investigations into Khoza’s case and the evidence “could not assert whether the assault did or did not happen”.
However, the police investigation was ongoing. Its outcome and a decision on whether Shaik would be prosecuted were awaited before any further steps could be taken.
Nxele said Ismail had not opened a case with the police and the department’s investigators had made several unsuccessful attempts to contact him.
He said the Sunday Times and the hospital where Ismail was visiting his daughter were visited, but a written response was received that Ismail was unwilling to co-operate with the investigation.
“No other witnesses or evidence could be found to confirm the alleged assault which, if confirmed, would have represented a violation of the conditions of parole by Mr Shaik … For this reason we have decided to reinstate Mr Shaik’s parole. Since the current investigation did not find him guilty of violation, no changes to his parole conditions were recommended,” he said.
Nxele said Shaik’s arrest, “for purposes of investigation”, was not harsh. “We must be able to assure the public that we will not have a parolee who is alleged to be beating people every day,” he said.
Mike Ramagoba, adviser to Correctional Services Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, said Shaik was not a free man, being in the correctional services system.
It would have been “very irresponsible” of the department not to act when presented with continuous complaints about Shaik.
Under his current parole conditions, Shaik has two hours of free time daily from Monday to Thursday. On Fridays he is allowed to attend prayers at a mosque from 11am to just after 2pm, and he has six hours’ free time, from 12pm to 6pm, on Saturdays and Sundays.
Ramagoba said 60 percent of people released on medical parole remained alive for some time and some recovered from their illnesses. New guidelines for medical parole were being reviewed by the government.
Medical parolees who recovered their health were not returned to prison because release on such grounds was not conditional on the prisoner dying, said Ramagoba. 


Air Plane Crashes

Witbank heli crash kills four

July 23, 2010

Four people were killed when their helicopter crashed outside Witbank, Mpumalanga paramedics say. 

The accident occurred around 9am in a field near Verena Road in Clarinet, where the chopper was found burnt beyond recognition, ER24 spokesman Werner Vermaak said.
"Paramedics on the scene explained that they could see four people, but all of them were engulfed in the flames. The local fire department and rescue services extinguished the flames."
All the occupants were already dead and there was nothing paramedics could do. It was not clear who the chopper belonged to and what caused the crash. 

Police helicopter crash kills seven....
July 23, 2010 

A police helicopter carrying seven people crashed outside Witbank, the police department says.
"It was a police helicopter with members of the National Intervention Unit," Minister Nathi Mthethwa's spokesman Zweli Mnisi said.
According to ER24 paramedics, the accident occurred around 9am in a field near Verena Road in Clarinet, where the chopper was found burnt beyond recognition, spokesman Werner Vermaak said.
Mnisi said Mthethwa, accompanied by national police commissioner General Bheki Cele, arrived at the crash site just before 11am.
"The minister and general have just arrived on the scene, they are there to determine what caused the crash."

Fighter pilot trainee dies after flight....

Johannesburg - A trainee pilot collapsed and died after a flight in a Hawk Lead-in Fighter at the Makhado airbase in Limpopo on Tuesday afternoon, the defence department said.

The man had successfully completed a training flight moments before he collapsed, spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Ronald Maseko said.

Medics tried to help him, but he died on the scene.

The Air Force has convened a board of inquiry to determine the cause of death. Neither his name nor his age could be released as the SAAF is still informing his relatives.

He was stationed at 85 Combat Flying School.

The minister of defence, acting chief of the SA National Defence Force Lieutenant General Themba Matanzima, and SA Air Force chief Lieutenant General Carlo Gagiano, conveyed their condolences to the pilot's family and friends.

Constable Accused of Corruption

Constable accused of corruption....

March 16 2011 

Johannesburg - A 31-year-old Soweto reservist constable was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly accepting bribes in exchange for jobs, police said.
Lieutenant-Colonel Tshisikhawe Ndou said the woman allegedly accepted between R450 and R5 000 from about 20 people to whom she had promised jobs at the Orlando police station.
“After realising that the suspect was unable to deliver on her promise, the complainants visited the station commander and lodged formal complaints.”
The constable was at the station at the time and was arrested when some of the victims pointed her out.
She faced various counts of corruption, said Ndou. 

Cwele Wants Court to Accept her Testimony

Cwele wants court to accept her testimony

Advocate argues her version more reliable

March 16, 2011 

Sheryl Cwele, the wife of State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele, wants the court to accept her testimony and reject a statement by a convicted drugs mule "who would resort to lies just to have things going her way". 

Cwele's advocate, Mvuseni Ngubane, introduced a new defence yesterday when he told the Pietermaritzburg High Court, sitting in the KwaZulu-Natal coastal town of Ramsgate, that Tessa Beetge, the woman Cwele allegedly recruited as a drugs mule, was no angel.
He was referring to an e-mail in which Beetge asked Cwele if she would falsely claim that they worked together at the Hibiscus Coast Municipality.
"Tessa did not testify and the absence of her evidence leaves a yawning gap in the state's case," said Ngubane.
"She appears to have made friends overseas. As things stand, we do not know what those friends were up to. Did they deal in drugs in cahoots with her? Did they use her as a drug mule and put drugs in her bag without [her] knowing?
"We are left to speculate about these things in the absence of evidence by Tessa."
The state alleges that Cwele and co-accused Frank Nabolisa recruited Beetge and Charmaine Moss as drugs mules. Beetge is serving an eight-year jail sentence in Brazil after 10kg of cocaine was found in her luggage in 2008.
Over the next seven weeks, Judge Piet Koen will deliberate on Cwele's defence that she was merely a generous friend who was helping two desperate women.
The defence wants the court to accept an affidavit in which Cwele claims Nabolisa owned a construction firm and needed white women to work with him so that he could secure contracts from whites.
Koen said that he would deliver his judg ment on May 4 in Pietermaritzburg: "You won't have to come to Ramsgate again. Pietermaritzburg is a little bit further but I am sure you will make it there," he said.
Earlier, Cwele whispered to Nabolisa in the dock when prosecutor Ian Cooke said the transcripts of cellphone calls and SMSs between them and Beetge were an "overwhelming web from which the two accused cannot escape".
"The way in which the evidence all fits together, like a hand in a glove, completely excludes there being a possibility that the data was corrupted in any way," he said.
But Ngubane argued that the state had not proved the reliability of the recordings and transcripts. 


Student Funding Chief Suspended

Student funding chief suspended....

March 16, 2011

The National Students Financial Aid Scheme, which limps from one crisis to another, had its CEO suspended just over a year after he took office.

It emerged in Parliament yesterday, during a briefing by the Department of Higher Education and Training on progress made in implementing recommendations of a ministerial review of the financial aid scheme, that CEO Ashley Seymour was quietly placed on suspension several weeks ago.
Kirti Menon, acting deputy director-general responsible for universities in the department, told MPs that Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande suspended Seymour after his instructions to restructure the loan book of the financial aid scheme - part of the recommendation of the ministerial review - were ignored.
"Part of the reason for the suspension relates to the processes prior and the processes after the disclaimer, which were not sufficiently and efficiently conducted with the required rigour or application that we would expect for a public entity," she said.
Menon said Nzimande requested that the scheme's management and board move urgently to implement recommendations of the ministerial review committee with regard to the loan book, but this did not happen.
"This was a task that the minister asked should be given top priority and a report provided to him timeously.
"The work undertaken by the organisation in order to review the loan book was not satisfactory and this partially resulted in a disclaimer being given by the auditor-general.
"A disclaimer is something that no organisation wishes to have, and if you have one you are definitely in for sleepless nights," she said.
The ministerial review panel recommended that the financial aid scheme come up with new policies and guidelines on calculating interest on student loans, how it is accrued, how the value of the loan book is estimated and accounting principles used.
Seymour, a chartered accountant, joined the scheme in February last year to turn it around after an uproar over unspent funds resulted in the previous CEO leaving.
Several board members have since resigned. The department hopes to fill eight board vacancies by the end of next month.
The scheme, which funds higher education studies for needy students, took flak when it was discovered that it was returning millions in unspent funds while students were being turned away by education institutions for lack of funds.

Now there is a surprise.

Another grand government scheme where the money has disappeared.

Wonder how that happened?