By Benson Ntlemo
A well-known Limpopo traditional healer who faces charges of fraud, alternately theft of COVID-19 funds to the tune of R3.2-million has asked the court to release him on bail to look after his big family of 24 wives and 93 children.
Masenyani Khosa of Nwa Khuwana village in the Greater Giyani local municipality in Mopani is the third accused in the well-publicised case in which his new wife, Dorris Mashimbyi, is the first accused.
The two appeared before magistrate CK Ngoako at the Malamulele magistrate’s court on Thursday in a bail application that started on Monday. The second accused is M’tititi Drop-In Centre, also represented by Mashimbyi as the director.
The couple was arrested by the Hawks five days after their wedding party at Jilongo village last month and charged with theft from the Unemployment Insurance Fund’s COVID-19 relief fund on behalf of Mashimbyi’s former employees at the Malamulele Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP).
The bail applications laid bare their personal circumstances, and Khosa, a well-known figure in Giyani, made an interesting case.
Though he gave his address as stand number 901 at Nwa Khuwana village in Giyani, where he had been living since 1990, he said he has other stands to accommodate his family of 24 wives and 93 children.
In his affidavit, Khosa said he still supports 39 children while the others are grown up and are on their own.
He said he was a traditional healer with many clients and has 14 stands in Nwa Khuwana, a house in Risinga View, two guest houses and five spaza shops.
Khosa listed high blood pressure and diabetes as chronic conditions. He had one previous conviction for reckless and negligent driving for which he paid a fine and has no other outstanding cases.
Mashimbyi said she has six children, four of whom are still at school. The other two are unemployed. Mashimbye has no previous or other pending cases.
Their lawyer, advocate Cedric Baloyi, asked the court to take their personal circumstances into account and release them on bail.
In opposing bail, Colonel Timothy Seabi for the police said there was a public outcry as shown by the people protesting outside the court. He said such cases were in the public interest and President Cyril Ramaphosa has said such cases must be investigated thoroughly.
“As far as the Department of Labour is concerned an agreement was reached to refund the money,” said Baloyi.
Advocate Patrick Nkuna, who is the deputy director for public prosecutions, also opposed bail, arguing that should they be released they would intimidate witnesses.
Baloyi refuted this. He said the two had no history of intimidating witnesses and that they have also signed a declaration that they would abide by the conditions of bail should it be granted.
He said that as this was a schedule five case, the state should not oppose bail because this was infringement of their constitutional rights. “In comparison with the VBS case, the amount in this case is a drop in the ocean.”
“I am innocent of the charges levelled against me but I have been advised that I do not need to deal with the merit of the case,” Khosa said.