Collins Chabane Municipal Manager, Tsakani Charlotte Ngobeni, appeared briefly in court to face charges of corruption and contravention of the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) in connection with the VBS Bank scandal on Friday.

Ngobenu appeared in the Palm Ridge Commercial Crimes Court in Johannesburg earlier this morning.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson  Sipho Ngwema said the state had alleged that in October 2017 Ngobeni had deposited a sum of R120 million in funds that belonged to the municipality, into an interest-bearing fixed deposit account at VBS Mutual Bank for a period of three months.

Earlier, on 31 May 2017, the municipality had approved and adopted an “Investment and Cash Management Policy” which came into effect on 2 June 2017.

“The policy prohibited the municipality from placing deposits with banks registered in terms of the Banks Act. The municipality was, therefore, not allowed to (place an) investment with VBS Bank because it was not registered under the Banks Act,” Ngwenya said.

A few days after that from 28 October 2017 until 30 October 2017, Ngobeni received R51 196 for accommodation, meals, beverages, spa treatments and spa products purchased at the Fairlawns Boutique Hotel and Spa in Morningside, from Moshate FNB account

“This account belonged to Kabelo Matsepe, a director of Moshate Investment Group (Pty) Ltd (Moshate), a political activist, and former prominent member of the Youth League of the African National Congress, in the Limpopo Province,” Ngwenya said.

Matsepe and 13 others are collectively facing 188 counts of racketeering, corruption, fraud, theft, and money laundering in connection with the VBS corruption scandal. They are among other things, accused of running a racketeering enterprise aimed at swindling VBS Bank.

“A payment of R590 000 was made from the Robvet account under the reference “Commission Payment Moshate” into the VBS ATM settlement account on 30 October 2017. In turn, a payment of R590 000 was made from the VBS ATM settlement account into the Moshate account on 30 October 2017,” Ngwenya  said.

The two bank accounts were controlled by Phophi Londolani Mukhodobwane, a VBS official and a co-accused in the VBS racketeering and corruption matter.

“On 31 October 2017, a credit facility for the amount of R1 388 899.54 was made available on the Ngobeni account for the acquisition of a Range Rover Velar 3.0 DSE, a facility that had been previously declined by VBS on the grounds that Ngobeni could not afford the repayments and had an inadequate credit score,” Ngwenya said.

In December 2017, Matsepe sought to persuade Ramavhunga, also a VBS official and an accused person in the VBS scandal case, and Mukhodobwane to reduce the indebtedness of Ngobeni in respect of her account to an amount of R600 000.

Around 30 January 2018, Matsepe purchased a Tag Heuer ladies’ wristwatch at Arthur Kaplan Mall of Africa worth R28 500, paid for from the Matsepe FNB account. Motsepe gave the wristwatch to Ngobeni in Polokwane on 30 January 2018.

“VBS failed to repay the deposit of R120 000 000 together with accumulated interest thereon to the municipality,” he said.

Ngobeni is the second municipal official to be arrested in connection with the VBS scandal, after former acting Chief Financial Officer of the Merafong Municipality, Matthy Wienekus (64). He faces a charge of contravention of the MFMA for depositing R50m into VBS Bank.

Ngobeni was granted R50 000 bail and the matter was postponed to 6 May 2021.

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Presh JM Reporter

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