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By Mpikeleni Duma | Apr 01, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

POLICE are following new leads that might crack the disappearance of a top ministerial aide.

POLICE are following new leads that might crack the disappearance of a top ministerial aide.

Puso Tladi, former defence minister Joe Modise's right-hand man, vanished seven years ago without a trace.

The police have launched a manhunt for a conman who used a fake identity document to claim R400000 from Tladi's special pension at government offices in Pretoria in October last year.

The police suspect the man, whose picture appears on the fake identity document, is part of a syndicate that has set up a scheme to fleece Tladi's pension and other government benefits due to him.

Working with some staff members in the government's special pensions offices and other parties close to Tladi, the syndicate is suspected to have stolen the funds and later deposited them in an account opened at Nedbank's Booysens branch in Johannesburg.

The account was suspended last year soon after the fraud was discovered, with only half of the money remaining. A monthly R5000 pension payout to the account was also stopped.

Before his disappearance Tladi left government to pursue private business interests in 2002 after a stint with the SA National Defence Force's intelligence division.

He also served as spokesperson for both the late Modise in the 1990s and his successor, Mosiuoa Lekota.

Tladi's disappearance on August 8 2003 is linked to the mystery millions belonging to Modise which, believed to have been kickbacks from the arms deal, apparently became a source of intense infighting soon after Modise's death in 2001.

Tladi is believed to have been not only privy to the whereabouts of these millions, but also the only living signatory to the mystery bank accounts holding the stash at the time of his disappearance. Unconfirmed reports say the millions are lying in a secret Swiss Bank account.

Shortly after Tladi's disappearance rumours claiming he was hiding in Mokgothlong, Lesotho, and was living with a girlfriend circulated but were later dismissed by his family and police who investigated them.

It was the discovery in January 2004 of the body of Tladi's friend, Patrick Mothibe, in Queen Elizabeth 1 Hospital's mortuary, that raised fears in the Tladi family that their missing relative could have met the same fate.

Meanwhile, a police detective charged with probing the case, Captain JP Botha, said he was investigating new leads after attempts to defraud Tladi's estate.


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