Former Land Bank CEO, MP and attorney face sentencing for fraud

JOHANNESBURG, March 7 (ANA) - The sentencing proceedings of three high profile people and a law firm convicted of fraud and money laundering are expected to resume in the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court in Pretoria.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Phindi Mjonodwane said in a statement on Wednesday that the trio and the law firm would be sentenced on Thursday.

"The NPA commends the prosecutor, Advocate Dries Janse Van Rensburg, a Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions in Specialised Commercial Crimes Unit (SCCU) - Pretoria and the investigation team for securing a conviction. Their sterling work further resulted in the successful seizure of the Schuinshoek farm as well as one of the BMW vehicles that was still in possession of one of the accused persons (Mr Ruben Mohlaloga) by the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU)."

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Mjonodwane said Phillemon Mohlahlane (accused one) was the former acting CEO of the Land Bank during the period December 2007 – 2008, Manyaba Mohlaloga (accused two) was a member of Parliament and the former chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture between 2007 and 2008, he was also appointed as the Chairperson of the ICASA council by the Minister of Communications on 12 December 2017 and still serves in that position, while Dinga Nkwashu (accused three) was an attorney and the sole shareholder of the firm Dingamanzi Ka Dinga Incorporated (Pty) (Ltd) – trading as Masipula Dinga Commercial Attorneys (accused four).

"The court found that Mohlahlane, Mohlaloga and Nkwashu formed a common purpose to defraud the Agri-BEE Fund and/or the Land Bank," she said.

"Mohlahlane instructed the manager of the Fund to pay R6 million to the Traut account of accused four (the firm). Mohlahlane presented to the fund manager that 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."

Mjonodwane added that the Agri-BEE manual explicitly excluded parliamentarians and civil servants from benefiting from the fund.

"Once the R6 million was transferred to the trust account of the law firm, the money was disbursed by a complicated number of transfers mainly to the benefit of Mohlaloga and Nkwashu."

State prosecutor Janse Van Rensburg argued that this was a case where people in power, Mohlahlane and Mohlaloga, blatantly defrauded the Land Bank.

“Their intention was to get access to money destined to assist previously disadvantaged farmers, women and youth in Agriculture to acquire land and to establish farming enterprises. Our courts should show no mercy to those who lack empathy for the disadvantaged", he said.