Three directors of Eastern Cape social housing company Camel Rock have been charged with defrauding the Social Housing Regulatory Authority (SHRA) of millions and then trying to launder the money.
Cwenga Pakade‚ Mzamo Thomas and Thanduxolo Zuka appeared briefly in the East London Commercial Crimes Court on Thursday on charges of fraud and money laundering.
The three are accused of receiving R61-million from SHRA on the last day of the 2012-13 financial year.
It is alleged that an investment manager at SHRA was “put under pressure” by his supervisors to pay the money to Camel Rock.
The transaction was later questioned‚ leading to Camel Rock’s bank accounts being frozen by the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU).
But in 2015‚ when the Daily Dispatch questioned the three directors about the deal‚ they maintained that they had done nothing wrong because they had formally applied for the funds and expected to receive them in order to continue with their Connemara Village social housing project‚ which they said would benefit thousands of Eastern Cape people.
On Thursday‚ speaking after their appearance‚ they vowed to clear their names.
The Daily Dispatch previously reported‚ using AFU court papers‚ that the R61-million was paid to Camel Rock on March 28[tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip]2013‚ and a few days later an amount of R4.8-million was withdrawn from the account.
At the time‚ SHRA’s former investment manager‚ Manda Nkuhlu‚ said in an affidavit to the high court in Grahamstown that he was put under pressure to pay the money to Camel Rock by his superiors‚ Brian Moholo and Eugene Perumal.
Nkuhlu said the Connemara Village project was not ready for implementation and “the transfer of R61-million should not have taken place”.
The R61-million forms part of R341-million paid to SHRA‚ which is being investigated by Department of Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu.
On Thursday‚ the three directors handed themselves over to the Hawks. In the Hawks charge sheet‚ it is alleged that R4.75-million was transferred immediately to an account of Umbengo Investments CC‚ which is accused number four in the case.
The court granted the three R5,000 bail each‚ moved the trial to the regional court in East London and set the date for March 1.
The accused are represented by advocate Mike Maseti on instruction from Hexana Attorneys.
Speaking after their appearance yesterday‚ Zuka said their image had been dented.
He insisted that they had done nothing wrong:[tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip]“The court will clear us.”
Pakade said they had received a letter of approval from SHRA and had embarked on a project using professional teams.
“We had to pay professional teams who worked with us and [we had to pay ourselves] for the hours we’ve worked individually on the project. There was no way that we would steal money that is intended for our own project. We never looted the money‚” said Pakade.
Eastern Cape Hawks spokeswoman Captain Anelisa Feni said the Hawks detectives were sending a clear message that fraud would not be tolerated.
“This case involved money that was released though a company that didn’t meet the requirements. The directors are charged with fraud and money laundering‚” said Feni.
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