Chief is likely to know his fate today

Rustenburg, Bakgatla ba Kgafela chief John Pilane with wife Wilhemminah apearing at Mogwase magistrate court on charges of fraud and corruption. Pic: Tebogo Letsie. 21/02/2007. © Sunday Times.
Rustenburg, Bakgatla ba Kgafela chief John Pilane with wife Wilhemminah apearing at Mogwase magistrate court on charges of fraud and corruption. Pic: Tebogo Letsie. 21/02/2007. © Sunday Times.

Winkie Dibakwane

Winkie Dibakwane

The fate of Chief Nyalala Molefe Pilane of the Bakgatla ba-Kgafela tribe is expected to be decided today.

Magistrate Stefaan du Toit, of the Mogwase regional court in North West, is expected to summarise the marathon case and to pronounce judgment and pass sentence tomorrow.

Pilane faces 46 charges of theft, corruption and defrauding the Land Bank of R27million.

He is appearing with Shimane Koos Motshegwa, who is accused of stealing R10000 belonging to the tribe.

Both men, who are out on R2000 bail each, have pleaded not guilty.

The chief's woes started in 2003 after his uncle, Matlapeng Pilane, reported him to the police for failing to declare the financial report of the tribe to the office of the premier and the directorate of traditional leadership as required by law.

Investigations resulted in the Asset Forfeiture Unit attaching Pilane's 14 farms, vehicles, game and livestock and freezing all his bank accounts in May.

Kobedi Pilane, who was initially charged with them, was found not guilty when the trial started in March.

Pilane has denied the state prosecutor's allegation that he stole the tribe's money.

"As the sole signatory of the tribe and from the mandate they gave me, I made deposits and withdrawals so as to facilitate the projects that the tribe had at our farms in Dwaalboom," he said.

State prosecutor Lizelle van Niekerk said: "You are lying and you have fabricated your evidence many times in this court.

"The truth is that you stole the tribe's money by transferring it into your personal accounts with the sole aim of stealing it," Van Niekerk said.

When asked to produce receipts of the numerous payments and purchases he claimed to have made, Pilane said all documents were confiscated by the Asset Forfeiture Unit.

The chief refused to bring to court a file in which he said he had made all entries of the tribe's financial matters.

"You are lying and the truth is that there is no file at home," the prosecutor said.

"You stole all that money."

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