Jozi court tunes into Lesedi FM fraud case

Dudu Busani

Dudu Busani

The state has arrayed a veritable who's who of 47 heavyweight witnesses, mostly broadcasting personalities.

Its R32million fraud case against popular radio presenter, Thuso Motaung, and his wife, Mamontha, starts in the Johannesburg commercial crimes court tomorrow.

The high-profile trial sees SABC chief Dali Mpofu headline a witness lineup that includes 13 Lesedi FM employees.

The glitterati couple, together with Soweto businessman Joshua Rame, stand accused of defrauding the SABC of about R32million in an advertising scam involving an energy-boost porridge supplement, Power Mix, over the past three years.

Among the state witnesses is equally popular colleague, regarded by many as a close friend to the couple, Eliot Chomane Chomane, who has worked for Lesedi FM for 26 years. The news that he would be a state witness came as a shock to millions of listeners.

The long list, see the box on the right,includes Thabo Kofa, an award-winning sports presenter with 19-years service, Mosololi Mohapi, traditional affairs presenter, and the popular Phelane Sothoane, who have both been with the station for 23 years.

A senior manager allegedly fainted on hearing about the trio's arrest last month. Then head of SABC radio, Thami Ntenteni, reportedly told Lesedi employeesthat more of them could expect to be arrested on similar charges soon.

The couple allegedly used their daily time-slots on radio to promote Power Mix on air, using unauthorised airtime and costing the broadcaster millions in lost revenue.

Thuso Motaung allegedly printed the Lesedi FM logo on the Power Mix packets that he sold at his spaza shop without the SABC's authorisation.

The relationship between Motaung and Power Mix began in 2003 when the product entered a year-long trade exchange agreement with the SABC.

The three accused allegedly entered into a personal relationship with the company to market and sell it through their private companies.

The Motaungs and Rame will appear in court for the second time on 17 charges of fraud. They were released on R100000 bail each.