A businesswoman from the Eastern Cape has been convicted in the Mthatha high court on charges of theft and money laundering, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks) said on Friday.
Thumeka Qongqo, aged 44, and her company Ogiyonke Construction were convicted on Thursday, Hawks spokeswoman Captain Yolisa Mgolodela said in a statement.
She said a probe by a Hawks serious corruption investigation team revealed that Qongqo and her company received two successive undue payments of R4.5 million (US$322,825) into her business and personal bank accounts.
The payments were facilitated by Qongqo’s sister, Nyameka Qongqo, who was employed by the OR Tambo district municipality as an accountant.
The payments were made without any services being rendered by the company or Qongqo to the municipality, Mgolodela said, adding that Nyameka Qongqo was also arrested and subsequently sentenced after pleading guilty on March 25.
The former accountant was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for fraud and the court ordered her sentence to run concurrently with a 10 year prison term for money laundering.
Nyameka’s husband Thobani Ntshokovu was slapped with a five year jail term after he was also implicated in the scam. His sentence was however wholly suspended and the court ordered him to instead pay a R50,000 fine after he pleaded guilty to his involvement in January 2020.
Mgolodela said Thumeka Qongqo had decided to take the trial route, leading to her ultimate conviction in court.
She is expected back in court on July 21 for sentencing.
Hawks provincial head Major General Obed Ngwenya lauded the investigation team from East London for its successful efforts in the case.