TRIAL AGAINST FORMER JB MARKS LOCAL MUNICIPALITY DELAYED BY APPOINTMENT OF NEW LEGAL REPRESENTATIVE

TRIAL AGAINST FORMER JB MARKS LOCAL MUNICIPALITY DELAYED BY APPOINTMENT OF NEW LEGAL REPRESENTATIVE

The Ventersdorp Regional Court postponed the fraud and theft trial against Kgotso Khumalo(52), the former Executive Mayor of JB Marks Local Municipality, Mohau Shuping and Cyril Hendry to 14 April 2023, to afford Shuping time to appoint and consult with his new legal representative. The trial has been postponed on numerous occasions owing to Khumalo’s I’ll health which has since improved, rendering him fit to continue with the trial.

The three are out on warning and they were cautioned not to interfere with the state witnesses. Khumalo, together with Shuping and Hendry, is facing eight charges of theft and defrauding municipal funds, and they have pleaded not guilty to all charges. It is alleged that the North-West University and the Programme for Community Development, paid millions into a trust account belonging to Coetzee’s law firm, for the use of specific projects by the municipality. The attorney was then given instructions to effect various payments, including an R208 000 mayoral committee contribution, towards the funeral of the late MEC for Agriculture, Duma Ndleleni, who passed away in November 2018.

During the start of the trial, the state-led its evidence in chief by its key witness Willem Coetzee, who was introduced to the court as an attorney from Willem Coetzee Attorneys, a law firm that was a member of a panel of attorneys appointed by the JB Marks Local Municipality, to manage its legal and financial mandates through a trust fund. He testified on how the accused instructed him, as the acting chairperson of the panel, to make payments in several accounts on different occasions.

He told the court he was also instructed to pay two amounts of R35 000 to Kagisano Funerals, for the same funeral, which the funeral parlour alleges was never received. A further R32 000 was allegedly paid to Roche Trading, for services rendered at the funeral. An amount of R210 000, was also highlighted as a form of payment to a law firm, Langford and Sons Projects (PTY) Ltd for an Australian football tour that was undertaken by Hendry.

It was, however, discovered that R200 000 was paid directly into the account of one of the accused, and from this, an amount of over R64 000 was paid to an institution where Khumalo’s relative was a student. Coetzee also testified on how Khumalo instructed him to pay two Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), an amount of R50 000 each, which was a loan for repayment. He was later given a different account to which he transferred an amount of
R100 000, instead of the R50 000 to each NGO. Coetzee told the court that he has since stopped being a member of the panel, following investigations into this case.

The state intends to call more witnesses to prove that false invoices were generated, to effect more fictitious payments, in the process of defrauding and stealing money meant for community development in the JB Marks Local Municipality.

The state is ready to proceed with the trial and hopes that no further delays will be experienced.

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