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Bail for tender fraud accused

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All the accused would plead not guilty to the charges and believed that the State did not have any evidence, relying only on affidavits

Picture: Soraya Crowie

FOUR of the six accused charged for fraud and corruption involving R11 million regarding the procurement of medical equipment at the Northern Cape Department of Health, were released on bail of R50 000 each in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court yesterday.

The accused – Victor Nyokong, Lebogang Lefifi, Walter Senoko, Nthabiseng Magano, Archibald Seboko and Fako Jim Khanoka – were arrested during an operation that was conducted by the Hawks in Bloemfontein, Kimberley and Johannesburg on Monday.

All the accused indicated that they would plead not guilty to the charges and believed that the State did not have any evidence, relying only on affidavits.

Nyokong, a former deputy director in the finance administration, was dismissed by the Department of Health in the Northern Cape following an internal disciplinary hearing relating to the same charges.

The other accused are all from Johannesburg.

The charges relate to the flouting of tender procedures for tenders that were awarded to Khutso Medical, WS Alcari, WTSO, Gopolong Medical Supplies (Pty) Ltd, Kenfa Holdings (Pty) Ltd and Kapa Bophelo Medical Health Solutions between 2013 and 2016.

The bail application for Archibald Seboko and Khanoka will be heard on Friday as their legal representative from Legal Aid South Africa, Siyabonga Hamise, was only appointed to the case yesterday and did not have time to consult with his clients.

Senior State advocate from the National Prosecuting Authority, Brian Mdlalose, pinpointed Nyokong as the man “who made everything possible”.

“The department was compelled to obtain three quotations for tenders under the R500 000 threshold. The same group of companies would conspire among themselves to enable one of the companies to be awarded the tender by submitting a lower price whereby the ‘competing’ companies would tender a higher bid. The companies would rotate regarding tenders.”

He added that the companies did not declare any conflict of interests, although the companies shared signing powers and directors.

Speaking on behalf of his client, Advocate Sakkie Nel stated that Nyokong was unemployed following his dismissal from the Department of Health in 2016.

“He was employed at the department from 2010 until 2015. Nyokong owns three houses in Hillcrest, Waterworks Street and New Park. He resides in the Hillcrest house with his wife and two children, aged nine and five years, while he rents out the houses in Waterworks Street and New Park for R12 000 and R13 000 per month. The rent is his only source of income.”

He added that Nyokong’s wife was employed at the Department of Health and would assist in raising his bail money as he could only afford R3 000.

The legal representative for Lefifi, Senoko and Magona pointed out that the detention of his clients would place a substantial burden on the accused and their families and that it would hinder their ability to prepare for the trial.

Magistrate Danie Schneider stated that the charges were of a serious nature, but believed that the accused would not pose a threat to society if they were released from custody.

All the accused were instructed to hand in their passports, except for Nyokong, who had informed his legal representative that his passport had been stolen “a long time ago”.

The State did not oppose bail.

The matter was postponed to July 12.