A former director at the Gauteng social development department has been charged with fraud for allegedly using taxpayers’ money.

July Maphosa was last week granted R10 000 bail when he appeared at the Randburg Regional Court.

Maphosa resigned from the department in April after City Press started asking questions relating to allegations of fraud, money laundering and racketeering against him in a matter that involved allegations of irregular transfer payments to not-for-profit organisations (NPOs).

He was the director of the sustainable livelihoods programme, the province’s flagship project, and was responsible for providing food and school uniforms to destitute families.

The charges were laid by Japhta Mookang, a director at the NPO Moriti wa Sechaba (MWS), in September last year after the two allegedly had a fall out.

The NPO was contracted by the department to provide meals for the poor.

City Press has learnt that Maphosa laid a counter-charge against Mookang relating to an alleged conspiracy to murder Maphosa, which resulted in the latter’s arrest on May 10. He was released on R20 000 bail by the Pretoria High Court last week. Mookang has denied the charge.

His lawyer, Piet du Plessis, said Mookang viewed the charge as a “set-up” as there was no evidence linking him to an alleged hit.

Maphosa was allegedly on the run for a week, and this resulted in the Douglasdale police issuing a warrant of arrest for him.

However, he denied he was on the run.

“I do not know who is feeding you with this information, which is totally incorrect, and given that the matter is sub judice, kindly refrain from contacting me further on this matter,” he said.

He referred questions to specialist investigator Mike Bolhuis, who confirmed that he was contacted by police looking for Maphosa because they could not locate him.

Douglasdale police spokesperson Captain Mpho Tshetlhane said a warrant of arrest for Maphosa was issued on May 31.

“The suspect was arrested [last Wednesday] and appeared at the Randburg Regional Court on the same day. He was released on bail. He will appear again on August 7.”

The charges have lifted a lid into alleged mismanagement of taxpayers’ money through allocations made to NPOs.

Maphosa’s arrest comes as City Press has received new information that MWS and another NPO, Siyabonga Africa, were contracted by the department to pay school uniform manufacturers on top of both having existing contracts to provide food.

This week, City Press saw documents that showed the department allocated more than R1 million to both MWS and Siyabonga Africa to procure uniforms that were not allocated to any of the suppliers in the 2017/18 financial year.

According to the documents, MWS received an allocation of R611 175 for 1 450 uniforms while Siyabonga Africa got R779 775 for 1 850 uniforms.

MWS confirmed that it was “one of several NPOs that entered into SLAs [service level agreements] with the department to manage the procurement and delivery of school uniform packs from several hundred sewing co-operatives and entities”, but declined to comment further.

Siyabonga Africa chairman Nathan Dell referred questions to the department.

“We place on record, however, that such ‘information’ as recorded by you is incorrect, and more particularly that no payment was ever received by us and/or paid out by us in respect of any items that were ‘unallocated’. All items purchased and/or paid for during our tenure with the department have at all times been correctly allocated, paid for and properly delivered.”

Gauteng social development department MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza said the Gauteng government had conducted a fraud detection review on the management of funds allocated to NPOs for implementing the food bank programme.

“Some of the issues that came out of the fraud detection review have been referred to the Hawks for further investigation and for action,” Mayathula-Khoza said.

How could funds allocated for poverty alleviation programmes be better managed to avoid fraud?

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