Eskom pre-paid voucher scam family exposed
Mother had six cars, owned 27 properties
The wife of the alleged mastermind in the illicit electricity vouchers syndicate, bought four modest properties in 22 days in 2013 and owned a total 27 houses while living a low-key life and driving a 20-year-old Renault Clio valued at R30,000.
For three years, Thandi Theletsane allegedly led a racket which sold Eskom’s pre-paid electricity vouchers using runners who operated across the country. The alleged syndicate would produce its own electricity vouchers and sold it to people at a fraction of Eskom’s price. The scam operated for more than a decade, costing Eskom more than R36m.
Theletsane, 50, her three sons Papi Isaac Theletsane, 31, Tebello Lucky Theletsane, 24, and Sibusiso Alfred Migal, 34 and nine others were arrested in July 2021. Two weeks ago, the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) was granted a restraining order by the Pretoria high court against them.
The state alleges that Theletsane's late husband, Mothelli Ben Theletsane, who was employed by Eskom on a contract basis, obtained intimate knowledge of the operations of various machines and had acquired technical expertise on credit dispensing units (CDU).
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Lumka Mahanjana said: “During his employment, he also acquired – unknown to Eskom – a Master Vending Unit that can generate limitless prepaid electricity vouchers and a few CDUs which he concealed after his exit from Eskom. After his passing in 2017, the business was taken over by his wife and their sons.”
The wife also ran the family business through Mothelli Theletsane Holdings and Investment.
Mothelli worked in a pre-paid environment as a supervisor supporting Eskom’s pre-paid vending system.
The court order allows AFU to seize the 27 movable and 39 immovable properties worth more than R23m. It is alleged that the Theletsanes and their co-accused managed to acquire the properties through proceeds of crime, according to Mahanjana.
Theletsane has six cars, with her R545,000 Mercedes Benz C205 being the most expensive. Her costly home at Riverspray Lifestyle Estate in Vanderbijlpark, valued at R1,5m, has also been seized.
Between August 20 and October 11 in 2013, at the beginning of the scam, Theletsane bought four small properties in Powerville, Vereeniging, for R1,5m. The prices for the houses ranged from R360,000 to R440,000.
On June 21 2018, Theletsane went on another property shopping spree and bought herself three houses in Summer Sun Village in Parys, each costing about R700,000.
One of her houses in Greenspark township in Fochville was bought for R340,000 and is now being rented out to mostly police officers. The house is slotted in between RDP homes and shacks. It has a cottage and a shack in the backyard. The house is in a state of disrepair.
A neighbour told Sowetan the owner threw a three-day home-warming party for the community six years ago.
“It used to be an empty plot and then someone bought it and built the house. The owner slaughtered two cows and four sheep and invited the community to a feast.
"Alcohol was flowing nonstop until Monday. Nobody asked anything about the purpose of the party, we were just happy to be drinking and eating free food,” said the neighbour.
About 5km away, in Danie Theron Street, a house belonging to one of the accused, Maqala Mohapi, where police found almost R500,000 in cash when he was arrested, looks a lot fancier, with pink boundary walls with matching paving. It has two CCTV cameras.
Mohapi, who confronted Sowetan for taking pictures of the house, said he had bought the property many years ago and had transfered it to his children.
“I don't live there anymore. The state wants to take every little thing that I have worked hard for and I’m going to fight back,” said Mohapi.
His R410,000 property in Sebokeng has been seized by the state.
Theletsane’s son Migal bought three properties with a total value of R750,000 in Emfuleni and Free State between June 2012 and March 2013. He has 10 cars under his name which include a R40,000 Ford Bantam and a Ford Laser valued at R13,000.
A year after his last house purchase, Migal was arrested in Vaal for being in possession of R300,000 worth of stolen cables and for selling illegal prepaid electricity vouchers.
The NPA’s Mahanjana said the prosecutor in the current case was not aware of Migal’s previous court appearances and would need time to verify this information.
During their arrests in 2021, police also confiscated R100,000 allegedly used as bribe money, as well as Louis Vuitton belts at the Mothelli Theletsane Holdings and Investment offices in Vanderbiljpark.
The group is expected to appear at the Palmridge magistrate's court this week.
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