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Fired MICT SETA CEO in more trouble, Hawks circling

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Fired MICT SETA CEO Oupa Mopaki.
Fired MICT SETA CEO Oupa Mopaki.

Oupa Mopaki, fired CEO of the Media, Information and Communication Technologies Sector Education and Training Authority (MICT SETA), is under investigation for money laundering in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.

His corruption case has been referred to Hawks head lieutenant-general Godfrey Lebea by public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, following her investigation into allegations levelled against Mopaki.

Mopaki was fired in 2018 for allegedly helping his nephew score lucrative contracts and having his alleged girlfriend appointed and promoted without following the correct processes.

Now, Mkhwebane has revealed in her report how the ousted Mopaki allegedly channelled millions of rand to a company owned by his nephew, using his official laptop.

The public protector says she has evidence Mopaki facilitated payments of almost R15 million to companies linked to his nephew Tebogo Mashigwane.

According to her report, MICT SETA paid over R14.6 million, following an irregular appointment process, to Lylacorp, Network Infraco and Bandwith Technologies, companies linked to Mopaki through his undeclared relationship with Mashigwane.

Mkhwebane said she has evidence the two are related.

“The evidence at my disposal confirmed Mr Mopaki is an uncle to Mr Tebogo Mashigwane, who is owner/director of various companies that were contracted to MICT SETA,” reads her report.

All three companies were registered with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission within five days in December 2011, and Mashigwane is the only current active director.

The damning report by the public protector found Mopaki and Mashigwane exchanged business-related communication/e-mails and financial transactions with private companies contracted to the MICT SETA owned by his nephew.

It reads: “Forensic evidence at my disposal from the computer/laptop drive of Mopaki established on a balance of probabilities that Mopaki had a business relationship and vested private interest at both Bandwith Technologies and Network Infraco, which are owned by his nephew Tebogo Mashigwane.

“Prima facie evidence from Mopaki’s official laptop indicated that he was registered on the computer domain on both Bandwith Technologies and Network Infraco and engaged in business and financial-related communications.”

Additionally, Mkhwebane says Mopaki was conflicted after he failed to declare to the board his relations.

“On the other hand, Mr Mopaki signed and approved contracts/SLAs between MICT SETA and companies owned by his nephew Tebogo Mashigwane without declaring the same to the board of MICT SETA, thereby being caught in a conflict of interests.”

Turning to the irregular appointment of a corporate services manager and senior manager without being advertised, Mkhwebane says the appointee, Naledi Sibandze, was improperly favoured.

Mkhwebane also says Sibandze was dishonest with her investigators when she told them she was promoted after a job grading exercise.

MICT SETA was prejudiced over R5.5 million by the irregular appointment of Sibandze and other qualified people unfairly denied an opportunity to apply or compete for the unadvertised jobs, she notes.

“The evidence in my possession indicates that the positions of manager and senior manager corporate services were neither advertised nor were interviews conducted in order to fill the posts. Ms Sibandze was improperly favoured/promoted/appointed to these two positions without Mr Mopaki following the MICT SETA recruitment and selection policy.”

After being placed on precautionary suspension, Mopaki and Sibandze’s services were terminated on 31 March and 30 September 2018, respectively. Mopaki and Sibandze allegedly earned over R3.3 million and R2 million a year, respectively, in 2018 before they were fired.

The Star newspaper reports today that in their response, Mopaki and Mashigwane said the public protector misdirected herself both on facts and in law in arriving at her findings and conclusions.

According to the newspaper, Mopaki maintained the mere fact he was Mashigwane’s uncle did not in any way constitute a conflict of interest as MICT SETA’s disclosure of interests form did not require him to declare a mere family relationship.

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