Johannesburg – The Qumbu Regional Court has sentenced Mhlontlo Local Municipality project manager, Zwelilungile Siqhola, to five years’ imprisonment after convicting him on a charge of fraud.
Between April and June 2017, 41 year-old Siqhola awarded a tender for construction of a concrete slab on a road at Khalankomo village in Qumbu, Eastern Cape, to a company belonging to his sister-in-law.
He then submitted an invoice of R169 000 and signed a certificate of completion, even though the slab was never constructed.
As a result, Mhlontlo Local Municipality paid the money into the account of Siqhola’s sister-in-law, whose bank card was kept by Siqhola. He spent the money as his.
Siqhola’s arrest followed complaints from the Khalankomo community who informed the municipality that they were struggling to access the remote area of their village because the slab they requested was never constructed.
During trial, Siqhola pleaded not guilty.
Senior State Advocate Mtutuzeli Rangula secured the conviction after leading the evidence of Mhlontlo Acting Municipality Manager, Thando Mase the owner of the company fraudulently awarded the tender, as well as the ward councillor of Khalankomo Village.
During the course of the trial, Siqhola, who was out on warning, was arrested again after the police foiled a murder attempt on Mase, who was the state’s key witness.
Siqhola is due back in Mthatha Magistrates’ Court on 22 January 2021, where he is facing a charge of conspiracy to commit murder and illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.
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