'Thank God for my acquittal'
"It has been a tough journey for me and my wife. My image has been tarnished but I applaud the legal system"
FORMER Mangaung municipality mayor Papi Mokoena could not control his emotions when he was acquitted by the Bloemfontein High Court yesterday.
Mokoena, who had tears running down his face, thanked God for his acquittal.
Judge Albert Kruger acquitted Mokoena, his wife Granny and former municipal manager Mojalefa Matlole on all the counts they had been charged with.
Mokoena was found not guilty of 163 charges, his wife 16 and Matlole 223 counts.
The charges included corruption, fraud, racketeering, theft and money laundering.
"It has been a tough journey for me and my wife. My image has been tarnished but I applaud the legal system.
"The basis of the charges levelled at me made me think that there was an ulterior motive against me.
"After being arrested I never ran but faced my challenges squarely. I have been praying since my arrest in 2007," he said.
Mokoena said his arrest was a witch-hunt by people who wanted to "settle scores".
"I was shocked when I applied for financial assistance from the government and was not assisted because I was arrested while serving as mayor.
"Other government officials who were arrested while in office received financial assistance," Mokoena said.
A very excited Matlole jumped up and down and hugged Mokoena before leaving the courtroom.
"I have mixed feelings. It has been a strenuous seven-and-half years for me, my family and all those who believed that I was innocent.
"This case has taken its toll on me and my family My image has been tarnished and I received bad coverage from the media," Matlole said.
Both Matlole and Mokoena said they planned to consult with their legal teams about what steps to take.
Their co-accused Zongezile Zumane, couple Mzwandile and Bridget Silwana, Motlalepule Thithi, Kegomodicoe and Keabecoe Lekone, Letitia and Givenchy Hoffman, Evodia Kok and Buyelwa Khethelo, were found guilty on charges including fraud and money laundering.
They were all acquitted on charges of racketeering.