Sowetan - Lindile Sifile
Thursday, 05 February 2015
A Limpopo community organisation has laid fraud charges against a municipality boss who allegedly failed to disclose his criminal record when applying for his job at the Greater Tubatse municipality. The Tubatse Residents Association in Burgersfort opened a case against the municipality`s acting director of corporate services, Jacob Melusi Motha, last month.
They accused Motha, 41, an ANC branch secretary, of using his connections in the police ranks to prevent his criminal record from being captured at the National Criminal Record Centre in Pretoria before landing a job as the municipality's labour relations officer.
Motha did not respond to numerous requests for comment this week. According to the department of public service and administration regulations, applicants are required to disclose their criminal record before they are considered for a job in the public sector. Ex-offenders with fraud convictions are barred from supply chain and other positions that handle financial matters.
Motha served 18 months at Witbank Correctional Services for fraud and forgery he committed while working as a public prosecutor in Middelburg. Documents from the prison's case management administrator Hendrik Erasmus showed that Motha was sentenced to five years in November 2004.
He lost his appeal and was jailed in April 2007. He served 18 months before he was granted parole in December 2008 and was appointed a senior labour relations officer a month later. His name, however, does not appear on police criminal records and, according to the Criminal Procedure Act, it would have been impossible for him to clear his name within a short space of time.
Mthunzi Mhaga, justice department spokesman, said criminal records can only be expunged after 10 years has elapsed since the date of conviction. "Name clearances are only done through the Department of Justice and are not automatically approved as we have to look at various things. It`s impossible for an ex-offender to clear his name without coming to us first. The police have a serious case to answer here," said Mhaga. Tubatse Residents Association had also written to the provincial and national ministry of safety and security and to the ministry of cooperative governance and traditional affairs complaining about Motha`s appointment and conduct.
Morewane Sekhukhune, chairman of the association, saidMotha's non-disclosure and lack of qualifications has had a big financial impact on the municipality. In an affidavit, Lazarus Makwela, former Tubatse municipality legal officer, said he visited Motha twice in prison and also helped him write letters to the parole board.
Makwela wrote that Motha assured Makwela not to worry about his criminal record as he had "connections with Middelburg police". Tubatse municipal spokesman Thabiso Mokoena said Motha was vetted and was cleared of any previous convictions. He however confirmed that Motha did not disclose his record and that no charges have been laid against him internally. Limpopo police spokeswoman Colonel Ronel Otto however has confirmed that a case of fraud against Motha had been opened.