Friday, 26 November 2021

Bloemfontein: Former Free State Human Settlements Department head, Mpho Mokoena, has been sentenced to ten years for corruption and contravening the Public Finance Management Act.

Mokoena was found guilty of failing to prevent the unauthorised, wasteful and irregular expenditure of at least R500 million related to the building of RDP houses in the province in 2010.

Mokoena had pleaded guilty on the charges and the sentence is wholly suspended.

According to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the Free State department had advertised and then withdrawn a tender to construct the houses after the National Human Settlements Department had allocated some R1.4 billion towards the building of homes.

“The [provincial] department was expected to utilise the funds in the same financial year for the purposes they were allocated. The department failed to utilise the budget in the 2010/11 financial year…and presented a recovery plan…[which] was not accepted.

“[But] the department went ahead and authorised the advance payment of at least R500 million worth of building equipment and materials for projects that still had to commence,” the NPA said.

According to the prosecuting authority, the payments were part of a “fraudulent scheme” by department officials to spend the money on “selected contractors” before it could be returned to National Treasury.

“In the face of that threat [to return the allocated funds] the department proceeded to implement the scheme, disbursing more than R500 million…with no lawful cause for payment.

“The contractors did not perform the construction work or performed only portions thereof. The suppliers did not supply material to the department or supplied only portions of the material. The suppliers and contractors…should not have been paid.” the NPA said.