Mantashe foundation COO fired after controversy over payments from Bidvest owned company

Isaac Mahlangu Senior reporter
Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe.
Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe.
Image: GCIS

The Gwede Mantashe Foundation says it has fired its COO Caswell Mokoena after it emerged that he acknowledged a R935,000 payment made to his company by Bidvest, using the letterheads of the foundation.

In a statement released on Tuesday morning, the foundation said it has decided to relieve Mokoena off his duties at the foundation to allow him to deal with this matter.

The allegations emerged in the labour court in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, where Nicolaos Riga, a former auditor at Bidvest subsidiary Voltex, say he was demoted, suspended and later dismissed after raising concerns about corrupt payments made to third parties including for the benefit of the Gwede Mantashe Foundation through a company called Ntlokholo Investments.

“The foundation is against any individual associated with it who may abuse its official brand, any of its material, and the position they hold in it, to act in a manner that harms its image and standing and thereby undermine its objective,” the statement from the foundation read.

“In this sense, it was erroneous of Mr Caswell Mokoena, as the COO of the foundation, to have used the foundation's letterheads in the manner that he did.”

The foundation stated that it had not received any form of direct or indirect payments from Bidvest or Ntlokholo Investments.

Mokoena has admitted to Sowetan that he wrote the acknowledgment of the payment using the Gwede Mantashe Foundation's name, saying it was “an innocent mistake”.

“The allegations as made by Mr Riga were investigated both internally and externally and no impropriety was found,” Mokoena said.

He said no funds from Bidvest were ever paid to the Gwede Mantashe Foundation. "The allegation that a letter was sent from the foundation acknowledging the receipt of funds was similarly investigated and found to be an innocent mistake,” he said.

Voltex, which is wholly-owned subsidiary of The Bidvest Group Limited, distributes a wide range of electrical products including solar geysers and had won a tender to sell geysers to the Department of Energy.

Riga, in court papers, said he had uncovered a payment of R935,000 made to a company called Ntlokholo Investments for which Mokoena was a director.

Riga said his follow-up audits uncovered more payments to the same company amounting to between R20,000 and R3.6m between December 2017 and May 2018.

He listed six payments which amounted to more than R6m which were made to Ntlokholo.

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