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Three sentenced for R21m IT tender fraud in Ekurhuleni

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Former Ekurhuleni employees, together with a businessman, have been jailed for their involvement in a corrupt IT tender.

The businessman, Velero David (36), sole member of Meropa Sechabeng Technology; Nilesh Sigh (49), former executive director IT at Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality (EMM); and Andrew Mphushomadi (46), former ICT senior manager at EMM, were collectively sentenced to 36 years of direct imprisonment.

The Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court sentenced David to 10 years for fraud and 15 years of direct imprisonment for corruption, and Singh to 10 years for fraud and 15 years of direct imprisonment for corruption.

The magistrate ordered that the sentences run concurrently. Mphushomadi was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment, with four years suspended.

According to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the matter emanated from a 2007 contract for the “supply, delivery, installation, configuration, implementation, commissioning and maintenance of computer and computer auxiliary components on an ‘as-and-when-required’ basis for a period of one year”.

Meropa, which was only registered on 15 June 2007, was granted the tender of R21 million on 7 April 2008, after being in existence for 10 months, says the NPA.

Moreover, the NPA says, David declared in his bid documents that he had no relations with persons involved with the evaluation and adjudication of the bid. This, the prosecuting authorities say, wasn’t true as David and Singh are related through marriage.

“Singh was involved with Meropa while David and Mphushomadi had a business relationship. The majority of invoices for payment to Meropa were approved by Singh.

“Nanga Transport (represented by Mphushomadi’s wife Makhosazana Ndlongolo) then purchased three Mercedes Benz Axor trucks worth more than R3 million with the money paid by EMM, while Meropa purchased 16 vehicles worth more than R8 million,” says the NPA in a statement.

“On 18 February 2022, the NPA's Asset Forfeiture Unit obtained a confiscation order against these ill-gotten assets. The order for final forfeiture is currently being executed by a curator to have the proceeds paid back to the EMM.”

Advocate Sibongile Mzinyathi, director of public prosecutions, welcomed the sentence, praising the collaboration of law enforcement agencies in solving the case.

Advocate Willem Van Zyl, who prosecuted the case, in his heads of argument said: “There was little or no concessions made by the accused, even on aspects that were eventually found to have been quite logical.

“The manner in which this crime was executed is concerning. It was planned and premeditated. The conduct of the accused was brazen and revolting, and would have induced a sense of shock and disbelief in any civilised human being.”

Culling corruption

Meanwhile, government has welcomed the lengthy prison sentences handed to the former City of Ekurhuleni employees.

Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele said the ruling served as a deterrent to any persons involved in any form of corruption.

“The sentencing is a testament to president Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address, which emphasised that government, guided by the National Anti-Corruption Strategy, will take decisive steps to expose and punish corrupt activities, and reform institutions to make them stronger and more transparent.

“Fighting corruption and promoting good governance is a fundamental priority of this administration.”

Gungubele said public servants must be resolute in stamping out corruption, and in creating a culture of service delivery and excellence.

“There is a lot of work being done by government and its partners to fight this scourge, and we are confident we will see more convictions in corruption-related cases. We applaud the Special Investigating Unit and the judicial system for their sterling work.”

Gungubele said government will not be deterred in its efforts to break the cycle of corruption and build a better tomorrow, as it is one of the greatest impediments to the country’s growth and development.

“Corruption has taken a great toll on our society and on our economy. Therefore, the success of the fight against corruption depends on the involvement of all citizens.

“As a society, we must not allow corruption to take place. It is up to each one of us to act with integrity at all times, and to be responsible and honest. We are making progress in addressing corruption in the country. By working together, we can ensure those who are corrupt have no place to hide.”

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