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Whistle-blowers claim Setas were captured too

2019-07-16 00:13

The Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture could soon be hearing testimony about how the government’s sector education and training authorities (Setas) were allegedly captured by high-profile people.

In one application sent to the Zondo commission last Tuesday, three whistle-blowers wrote: “We wish to provide information of fraud and corruption against the media, information and communication technologies (MICT) Seta, by Mr Oupa Mopaki the former chief executive, and ... also the National Skills Fund.”

The three, who say they now fear for their safety, claim to have been purged from the Seta by Mopaki. Mopaki left the Seta last year – ahead of a disciplinary hearing – after his contract was not renewed.

He was “charged with acts of misconduct committed during his tenure”.

The Seta board then laid charges with the police of fraud, corruption and contravening the Public Finance Management Act as well as the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act.

The charges followed a presidential proclamation last year which tasked the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to investigate allegations of maladministration at the Seta.

The probe was extended to include companies allegedly linked to Mopaki that received millions of rand from the Seta.

City Press reported in 2017 that Mopaki’s email details were on the website of Transhub, an online transport directory, as the “contact person” for Network Infraco, which received funding from the Seta.

Mopaki confirmed at the time that it was his email address.

His nephew is alleged to be a director of Network Infraco.

Mopaki explained then that his details could have been placed on the website before he declined a job offer from the company when his first contract with the Seta ended in 2012.

A forensic report commissioned after the City Press report found that Mopaki had improperly appointed and promoted his alleged girlfriend Naledi Sibandze, who later left the Seta.

The three whistle-blowers’ application to the commission last week is linked to a fraud and corruption case they opened against Mopaki last year.

They later laid a complaint of intimidation against him and both were sent to the Hawks’ serious commercial crimes unit.

But in March this year, the National Prosecuting Authority declined to prosecute Mopaki, according to Gauteng Hawks spokesperson Captain Ndivhuwo Mulamu.

The office failed to comment.

The whistle-blowers told City Press last week that they felt they had been failed by the criminal justice system, saying the SIU did not even interview them.

The commission, they said, was their last resort.

One of the whistle-blowers said he was often instructed to prioritise certain projects, which had not been approved by the Seta’s committee, because they “belong to the minister”.

SIU spokesperson Nazreen Pandor said whistle-blowers were interviewed in 2017.

Mopaki did not respond to questions emailed and WhatsApped to him last week, but they were read.

Zondo commission spokesperson Mbuyiselo Stemela did not respond to questions either.

However, City Press understands the whistle-blowers were scheduled to meet the commission’s investigators on Friday as part of the Zondo commission’s preliminary investigation into their claims.

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August 18 2019