Premier’s office got tenderpreneur to pay acting judge – report
A former acting judge and alleged Gupta enabler, Refiloe Mokoena, benefited from the proceeds of the controversial Free State asbestos audit tender in a payment made through the office of then-premier Ace C.
Diamond Hill Trading, one of the companies that jointly won the R255m tender, paid R54,000 towards the study fees of Mokoena’s daughter in the US. Mokoena was an acting judge in the Free State when the payment was made.
This is the evidence that investigators of the state capture commission of inquiry have gathered in their fact-finding mission on the asbestos eradication project of the Free State provincial government. The project tender was awarded to the Blackhead/Diamond Trading joint venture. Diamond Trading was owned by slain businessman Ignatius “Igo” Mpambani.
Mokoena is also a former head of legal at the South African Revenue Service. She was fired in November last year following a disciplinary process over misconduct. She was said to have been involved in the approval of a reported R420m VAT refund granted to the Guptas.
Commission investigators have established that the tuition fees payment was arranged via Magashule’s office when he was premier of the Free State.
Mokoena declined to comment when approached by the Sunday Times on Friday. ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe did not respond to questions meant for Magashule.
According to the investigators’ report, Mokoena told them she knew Magashule from her student days in the late 1970s and early ’80s.
The two met in Germany in July 2015, and a discussion about her daughter’s study fees took place. Magashule promised “financial assistance” towards her daughter’s studies, asking Mokoena to make “an appropriate request” to the office of the premier.
Back in SA, Mokoena duly sent a request to Magashule’s office. Her first official request to the premier’s office was made on July 17 2015.
“Dear Premier, herewith please find the document for purposes of settling my daughter’s university account. Please know that the annual fees payable after receiving the scholarship is approximately US$24,298,” she wrote to Magashule.
“The semester amount payable before 31 July 2015 is, however, US$12,149. Kindly go to the link provided in their e-mail and use the following access code to pay username is given there and the password is given.
“Please acknowledge receipt and let me know if you will also be paying for her travelling and living expenses as well.”
At the time of this request, Mokoena was not an acting judge. However, “it should be noted that she did send an e-mail to Ms [Moroali] Cholota [Magashule’s personal assistant] on 30 July 2015, when she was an Acting Judge, regarding the study fees,” the commission investigators noted.
On August 12, Magashule’s PA forwarded Mokoena’s request to Mpambani, who made payment for part of the amount requested the next day. Mpambani sent “the proof of payment for 4,000 Dollars” to Magashule’s office, and the premier’s PA acknowledged receipt the following day.
During her interview with the commission’s investigators, Mokoena insisted that there were no “reciprocal obligations” between her and Magashule.
She claimed not to know Mpambani and pleaded ignorance about who had paid her daughter’s fees.
“However,” the investigators’ analysis goes on, “Ms Mokoena sent an e-mail on 18 August 2015 requesting Ms Cholota to thank the Premier and the ‘donors’, which suggests that she knew of third party involvement but neglected to mention same in her affidavit.”
Mpambani was shot dead in Sandton in broad daylight in 2018. His business partner in the asbestos deal, Edwin Sodi, was arrested by the Hawks this week following his appearance before the commission.