Home News Company to be charged in ‘ghost’ youth festival saga

Company to be charged in ‘ghost’ youth festival saga

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Traffic Events Management, which was allegedly paid R1 million for hosting the ghost Umsobomvu Youth Festival, will be added to the charge sheet when fraud-accused officials from the Northern Cape Department of Sport, Arts and Culture reappear in court later this month.

The former acting HOD of the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture. Ruth Palm, the corporate services chief director, Bonakele Jacobs, and the chief financial officer, Andrian Coleridge, appeared in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court. Picture: Supplied

TRAFFIC Events Management, which was allegedly paid R1 million for hosting the ghost Umsobomvu Youth Festival, will be added to the charge sheet when fraud-accused officials from the Northern Cape Department of Sport, Arts and Culture (DSAC) reappear in court later this month.

The former acting head of DSAC, Ruth Palm, 61, the chief financial officer (CFO), Andrian Coleridge, 50, and the chief director of corporate services, Bonakele Jacobs, 55, were granted bail of R10 000 each in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court on March 6.

They have been charged with contravening the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), fraud and money laundering.

The investigating officer in the matter, Sergeant Busie Lamoen from the Hawks’ Serious Commercial Crime Investigation unit, indicated that the money that was reflected in the company’s bank account was never recovered.

“The Northern Cape Arts and Culture Council (NCACC) released R1.6 million to pay Traffic Events Management, upon the recommendation of the CFO, while proper procurement processes were not followed,” said Lamoen.

She explained that R1 million was paid to the service provider while the balance of R600,000 would have been paid upon producing an expenditure report.

“The festival, which was supposed to be held in December 2016 in Colesberg, never took place and the R600,000 was withheld as the report was never submitted.”

Lamoen stated that Jacobs liaised between the DSAC and the NCACC.

“He recommended the appointment of Traffic Events Management to the CFO, while the payment was approved by Palm.”

Lamoen did not oppose bail as she believed that the accused were not flight risks and would attend all court dates.

She added that none of the accused had any previous convictions or pending cases.

Senior State advocate Isaac Mphela recommended that bail be set between R10 000 and R20 000 as the charges were serious.

“The State suffered prejudice amounting to R1 million, while the accused occupy instrumental positions at the department,” Mphela pointed out.

The legal representative for the accused, Ruwald Wilson, motivated for bail to be reduced to R5 000.

“Bail of R20 000 borders on being punitive. Palm is a pensioner while the salaries earned by Coleridge and Jacobs do not equate into disposable income.”

Magistrate Maimane Booi stated that Palm stood accused of contravening the PFMA and failing to ensure that proper procurement processes were followed.

“She allegedly failed to prevent fruitless and wasteful expenditure,” said Booi.

She added that Traffic Events Management would face charges of money laundering as well as contravention of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.

“If convicted, the accused will face a long term of imprisonment.”

Booi believed that the accused would face financial prejudice where they stood to lose half of their salaries if they were expected to pay bail of R20 000.

She reduced bail to R10 000 each and postponed the matter until March 25.

She indicated that the service provider and its directors would be joined to the charge sheet.

The former acting HOD of the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture. Ruth Palm, the corporate services chief director, Bonakele Jacobs, and the chief financial officer, Andrian Coleridge, appeared in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court. Picture: Supplied
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