The senior officials from the Northern Cape Department of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism who were arrested by the Hawks on Wednesday have been granted bail of R10,000 each.
THE SENIOR officials from the Northern Cape Department of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism who were arrested by the Hawks’ Serious Corruption Investigation team on Wednesday have been granted bail of R10,000 each.
The accused – the former head of department, Patrick Seboko, 66, the senior project team manager, Tebogo Basil Gaborone, 46, the chief director of trade and sector development, Lizette Wyngaard, 56 and the chief financial officer (CFO), Kuberin Packirisamy, 60, appeared in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.
Seboko was not present in court for the formal bail application due to illness.
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) regional spokesperson Mojalefa Senokoatsane said the accused were charged with fraud, contravening the Diamond Act and contravention of the Public Finance Management Act.
“The accused are expected to hand in their passports and have agreed not to interfere with any State witnesses.”
The State prosecutor, advocate Lentswe Setouto, did not oppose bail.
Magistrate Bethanie postponed the matter to October 22.
The charges relate to the disappearance of diamonds valued at over R6.7 million that were purchased by the department for a diamond cutting and polishing training programme at the Kimberley Diamond International Jewellery Academy (Kidja) in 2011.
The uncut diamonds went missing from a safe at the jewellery academy, where there was apparently no signs of a forced entry.
The diamonds were purchased with donor funds received from the European Union, exceeding R6.7 million, during the 2010/11 financial year.
Hawks spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Philani Nkwalase said that the diamonds were bought in March 2011 from a private entity without the necessary licences to buy rough diamonds. “Consequently, these diamonds were stored at the premises of the same private entity.”
Nkwalase said that 40 students were enrolled to undergo a mining qualification course in the cutting and polishing of diamonds, to be facilitated by the Kidja, in 2011.
“It was established that the diamonds were missing and unaccounted for in July 2012. This was uncovered during a random inspection by the auditor-general.”