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Fraud accused officials granted bail

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The former head of the Northern Cape Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, Ruth Palm, 61, the chief financial officer, Adrian 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 Wednesday.

Officials from the Northern Cape Department of Sport, Arts and Culture were arrested by the Hawks on Wednesday. Picture: Supplied

THE FORMER head of the Northern Cape Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, Ruth Palm, 61, and two current senior officials were granted bail of R10,000 each in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.

Palm and her two co-accused – the chief financial officer of the department, Adrian Coleridge, 50, and the chief director of corporate services, Bonakele Jacobs, 55 – were charged with fraud, money laundering and contravening the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).

The charges relate to the R1.6 million Umsobomvu Youth Festival that was scheduled to take place in Colesberg in December 2016, but which never took place.

The two senior officials were arrested at their offices in Kimberley on Wednesday morning by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) in the Northern Cape, while Palm handed herself over earlier.

A spokesperson for the Northern Cape Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, Conrad Fortune, said they were not informed about why the two executive managers were arrested.

“The department was unfortunately not informed why the officials were arrested and hence we are unable to comment on the matter relating to the arrest,” said Fortune.

“We will however ensure that an internal investigation unfolds in relation to the arrest and if it is linked to any current investigations of the Hawks. Once we receive the necessary information, then we will follow all prescribed processes and procedures that govern the department in relation to the responsibility of the employer as well as the rights of the employees arrested.”

Fortune added that the officials were responsible for their own legal costs and the payment of bail.

National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) branch secretary Moses Vorster meanwhile welcomed the arrests and pointed out that it had taken nine years for action to be taken.

“We hope the law will take its course and call for the immediate suspension of the officials so that there is no interference in the investigation,” said Vorster.

Two officials from the provincial Department of Sport, Arts and Culture were arrested at their offices in Kimberley on Wednesday by the Hawks in the Northern Cape. Pictures: Supplied

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