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November 26, 2011

South Africa: Former Land Bank boss in court on graft charges

Former Land Bank chief executive Philemon Mohlahlane and two others appeared in the Pretoria Commercial Crimes Court on November 7 on charges of embezzling R19-million from the AgriBEE scheme.

The matter was postponed because one of Mohlahlane's co-accused -- former Gauteng's provincial housing minister Mpu Daniel Mofokeng -- requested time for his new attorney to study the case.The court set a provisional date for January 30, when a trial date would be decided.

Mofokeng told the court he faced financial problems and could not afford to pay his attorney, Molifi Mabalane. Magistrate Nika Setshogoe urged Mofokeng to apply for legal representation from the Legal Aid Board if he could no longer afford to pay for his own lawyer.

Mohlahlane, Mofokeng, Matuba Maponya and Khutso Mosoma were arrested on March 1 and released the next day on R40 000 bail each. Charges against Mosoma were later withdrawn. The remaining three were expected to plead to five counts of fraud and five counts of money laundering at their next court appearance.

At the time of their arrest, Hawks (government fraud investigation squad) spokesperson McIntosh Polela said the charges related to money transferred from the AgriBEE fund to a firm of attorneys. This money was then allegedly used to buy houses and cars instead of funding small, medium and micro enterprises. The offences were committed between October 2007 and January 2008.

Mohlahlane (56) was arrested and charged separately in March for allegedly falsifying his qualifications in applying for several high ranking government jobs.

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