A senior government official is being investigated for allegedly splashing thousands of rands of taxpayer’s money on a car for his girlfriend and furniture for her house during a two-year spending spree.

Between 2014 and 2016, July Maphosa, a director at the sustainable livelihoods programme of the Gauteng department of social development, which is meant to support needy families, also allegedly instructed a service provider to transfer funds to buy a luxurious car for a friend.

He also allegedly instructed the man to pay for a trip for his friends and his girlfriend to Cape Town to “work” at ANC birthday celebrations in 2014.

These allegations are at the heart of a police investigation into allegations of fraud, money laundering and racketeering.

City Press understands the case was opened by the convicted hijacker-turned-entrepreneur, Japhta Mookang, at the Douglasdale police station in September last year.

Mookang opened the case after falling out with Maphosa and the not-for-profit organisation (NPO) Moriti wa Sechaba (MWS), which is contracted by the department to provide meals for the poor.

At the time of Maphosa’s alleged spending spree, Mookang’s company, Khayalethu Agricultural Cooperative, was sub-contracted by MWS to provide vegetables for the department’s food banks, while Mookang was also a director at MWS.

The falling out followed a dispute over R2.8m allegedly owed to Mookang’s firm after it supplied produce to MWS, which forms part of a separate civil matter.

Documents contained in the criminal docket indicate police are now investigating whether Maphosa used Khayalethu Agricultural Cooperative as a vehicle to channel kickbacks.

Mookang filed a statement with police claiming that Maphosa:

. Instructed him to buy a Polo Vivo for his girlfriend, costing R117 450;

. Transferred R300 000 to a company owned by one of MWS’s directors to buy a Mercedez-Benz coupé for another friend;

. Paid R82 853 to a travel agency for a trip to “work” at the ANC’s birthday bash in 2014 for his girlfriend and a group of friends, Mookang among them;

. Instructed him to buy his girlfriend a cellphone;

. Paid amounts ranging between R5 000 and R50 000 to Maphosa’s friends and acquaintances; and

. Paid for a trip for a close female friend to travel to the Cape Town Jazz Festival in 2016.

Maphosa did not respond to questions sent to him this week. In a text on April 12, he said: “I wouldn’t want to comment on the matter. Based on my earlier response, I prefer not to comment on these matters given [their] sub judice nature.”

Gauteng social development spokesperson Mbangwa Xaba said the department was not aware of the criminal matter.

Mookang also told police that when he started asking questions about R2.8m which he claims emanated from the department and which MWS allegedly used to buy a farm in 2016, and other sums of state money used to pay a company owned by one of MWS’s directors, Maphosa and co-directors at MWS reprimanded him.

Mookang allegedly told the police that his company’s funds were cut off and he went to find a lawyer, who advised him to go to the police.

Mookang said he was owed millions and referred questions to the police.

Douglasdale police spokesperson Captain Mpho Tshetlhane confirmed a case of fraud, racketeering and money laundering was laid and the case was “receiving the necessary attention”.

“No one has been arrested yet. The police investigations are continuing,” Tshetlhane said.

MWS director Winston Phahlane said Mookang was suing the NGO for money he claimed it owed him.

“We were always confident the claim had no merit. Mr Mookang has been trying to extort undue funds from MWS over the past seven months using various tactics, and the directors of MWS are adamant they will not be coerced to pay him undue monies,” he said.

“We have opened a case of extortion against him with the police. Presumably this is another attempt to exert pressure on MWS to pay him money he is due. MWS is cognisant of its role to administer public funds in a responsible manner. Therefore, MWS will not pay any more money to Mr Mookang unless it is ordered by a court of law.”

Phahlane said Mookang was a founder member of MWS but was asked to resign from the board after they found out he was a convicted hijacker.

“He failed to disclose this information to the other board members. It would have been remiss of the board and in violation of the NPO guidelines had the board continued to have him as part of MWS,” Phahlane said.

“Since then Mr Mookang has engaged in a concerted and sustained campaign to try and discredit MWS. We are aware he has opened a case against MWS at Douglasdale police station. We have engaged and co-operated with the police on the matter. Our books and programs are open to scrutiny by relevant authorities. We have nothing to hide.”

TALK TO US

Do you believe Moriti wa Sechaba director Winston Phahlane when he says the organisation ‘has nothing to hide’? SMS us on 35697 using the keyword ROB and tell us what you think. Include your name and province. SMSes cost R1.50

, Read More