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Former NC municipal officials start jail terms

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Former Siyancuma municipal officials Sonja Morolong and Boitumelo Sehako have started their prison terms after losing an appeal against their conviction.

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Former Siyancuma municipal officials Sonja Morolong and Boitumelo Sehako have started their prison terms after losing an appeal against their conviction.

They were sentenced in the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court last week.

Morolong was found guilty of corruption, while both accused were convicted on 23 charges of fraud.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) regional spokesperson, Mojalefa Senokoatsane, said Morolong was convicted in the regional court on charges of corruption and money laundering as well as 23 counts of fraud on November 11 2018.

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“Sehako was convicted on 23 counts of fraud. On November 28 2018 Morolong was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment and Sehako was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment.”

He added that both accused applied for leave to appeal their convictions and sentences.

“An appeal was only granted in respect of their convictions, which was subsequently dismissed. They were taken into custody and started to serve their sentences on April 11.”

Morolong was appointed as a salary clerk who requested to be moved to the human resources department, while Sehako was her immediate supervisor.

According to the charges, Morolong, in conjunction with another official, Moses Mathee, deliberately overpaid Plaatjie Bassie an amount of R4,455 instead of R800 for days worked.

It stated that a gratification was paid to Morolong by Bassie where he in turn benefited from the balance, while his bank account was used as a conduit for theft.

Bassie decided to report the matter to the police as he saw Mathee “always carrying many envelopes to pay workers while there were not so many workers to be paid”.

The State alleged that Morolong and Sehako conspired with Mathee, who acted as an accomplice to “unlawfully, falsely defraud and misrepresent” the Siyancuma Municipality in making payments to “employees” who had not performed any work for the municipality.

The municipality in turn suffered financial losses amounting to R72,800.

During the trial, state witnesses testified that they received cheques from the municipality for picking up papers at the Douglas resort.

They were expected to provide their identity documents and bank details to the accused or their accomplices.

After receiving the cheques they were required to withdraw the money and make payments to the accused.

In some instances, they were informed that the money was paid erroneously into their bank accounts. In return for reimbursing the accused, they received amounts varying from R250 to R300.

Another witness testified that she was offered employment at the municipality after handing money over to Morolong while they were seated inside Sehako’s vehicle.

Mathee pleaded guilty to the charges where he admitted that he worked with the accused.

He testified that he had not completed his schooling and was only able to write his name and surname.

Mathee collected the identity documents of 12 persons who would be employed as temporary workers at the municipality and was also promised money.

He was supposed to receive R8,000 in respect of the salaries of four ghost workers as a benefit in June 2014 whereas he received about R5,500 for July 2014 payments.

Mathee indicated that he had to repay R17,000 as part of his sentence.

The municipal manager, Hastings Nell, testified that payments made to ghost workers for a cleaning project were never approved and that Sehako had no authority to employ workers.

During the trial, Morolong indicated that she accompanied Sehako to the road near the co-op where they met Mathee to deliver sausages that he had bought from Sehako, although no money was exchanged.

She said Sehako enquired about a person who came to collect a cheque at the municipal offices and was requested to collect R400 from Mathee for the money that he owed her for the sausages.

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