Pretoria — A former Land Bank CEO Philemon Mohlahlane (63), Ruben Mohlaloga (45), who is a former Member of Parliament and Dinga Rammy Nkhwashu (41), an attorney have been sentenced on Thursday by the Pretoria Specialized Commercial Crimes Court for defrauding the Land bank of around R6-million.
The three men were arrested by the Hawks' Serious Corruption Investigative unit in October 2012. This followed relentless investigations that revealed that, they had formed a common purpose to defraud the Agri-BEE Fund/Land Bank Government project of R6-million that was undeservedly paid into a trust account operated by Nkhwashu's firm on Mohlahlane's instruction.
The BEE agriculture project was meant to benefit emerging farmers and assist previously disadvantaged farmers' women and youth in Agriculture to acquire land and to establish farming enterprises.
This was made possible after Mohlahlane instructed the fund manager to transfer the funds, after he made it seem like it was an urgent ministerial instruction for a ministerial project. No procedures were consequently followed. There was no proper application' no due diligence was done on the project and the matter was never served before the National Advisory Panel for approval.
The funds were then subsequently transferred out of Nkhwashu's trust account in a large number of intricate transactions to the benefit of the convicts.
The investigating team presented a watertight case in the subsequent trial which resulted in the trio being found guilty by the Pretoria specialized court in January 2018 on charges of money laundering and fraud. The team further worked closely with the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU), to ensure that assets acquired through the proceeds of crime valued at approximately R3.2million were recovered. These included a Schuinshoek farm as well as a luxury BMW vehicle.
The court has ordered Mohlahlane to serve an effective seven (7) years jail term, whilst Mohlaloga is to serve (20) twenty years and lastly Dinga Rammy Nkhwashu has been condemned to serve an effective sentence of (24) twenty-four years. An application for leave to appeal against the conviction was dismissed whilst an application for leave to appeal against the sentence was granted for all 3 three accused who have all been granted bail ranging from R30 000 to R100 000 pending the appeal.
The Directorate For Priority Crime Investigation National Head, Lieutenant General, Godfrey Lebeya has welcomed the judgment and commended the investigation and prosecutorial teams for ensuring that justice is served.