Net widens in Fort Hare fraud, corruption arrests

15 more suspects appear in court

03 April 2024 - 07:00
By Jeanette Chabalala
Fifteen suspects appear in the Dimbaza magistrate’s court yesterday in connection with fraud and corruption charges.
Image: Mark Andrews Fifteen suspects appear in the Dimbaza magistrate’s court yesterday in connection with fraud and corruption charges.

One of the 15 people who appeared at the Dimbaza magistrate's court in Eastern Cape yesterday for alleged crimes at Fort Hare University was vocal on anti-corruption during the memorial service of his colleague Mboneli Vesele, the murdered bodyguard of vice-chancellor Prof Sakhela Buhlungu.

Thamsanqa Sonjica, a VIP protector at the university, appeared in court alongside manager at Buhlungu’s office Nozuko Mabombo, lawyer Bradley Conradie, celebrity bodyguard Anwar Khan as well as Mbulelo Gingcana, who was implicated at the Zondo commission for allegedly receiving a bribe from Bosasa.

The group is among a total of 25 people accused in connection with corruption, murder, kidnapping, fraud and attempted murder at the institution as a result of a clampdown that was unleashed after Buhlungu took over at Fort Hare. 

The latest arrests were made by police during the Easter weekend in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, the Western Cape and Eastern Cape.

Anwar Khan – Head of Pentagon Group of Companies in Durban

Khan owns a private security agency that took care of late rapper Kiernan "AKA" Forbes’s security in Durban for eight years. Khan's security company has protected the likes of TD Jakes, Michael Jackson, Oprah Winfrey, Snoop Dogg, Alicia Keys and Kendrick Lamar. Forbes and his friend, celebrity chef and entrepreneur Tebello "Tibz" Motsoane, were shot dead in February 2023 in Durban.

Isaac Plaatjies – Investigations and vetting director at the university

Plaatjies was fired after it was discovered that he lied about his academic qualifications. His employment contract was terminated with immediate effect in January.  Plaatjies was informed of his termination by HR director  Paul Tladi, who has since been arrested.

Paul Tladi – Director of human resources 

Last year, Tladi was named as one of 10 influential HR executives by a business magazine. The university's news site described him as a visionary leader dedicated to shaping the workforce. In 2019, Tladi was reportedly a victim of attempted murder after he allegedly received threats. According to reports, three vehicles ambushed him, resulting in his car being forced off the road and shots being fired. 

Thamsanqa Sonjica – VIP protection services at Fort Hare

Last year, Sonjica attended the memorial service of his colleague Mboneli Vesele, who was vice- chancellor prof Sakhela Buhlungu's bodyguard, and spoke about protecting the executive and the institution. Vesele was killed outside Buhlungu’s home at the Alice campus staff residence.

During the service, Sonjica said: "These criminals that are internal, that are targeting us, I say it boldly that it will be difficult for them to come back. Here we are protecting the executive, an executive that is protecting the vision of this university. We are not doing this for ourselves but for the future of our children; the problem is the place that we are positioned in, at this university."

Anna Smith - Senior administrator and personal assistant at the university’s department of investigations, vetting and protection services.

Nozuko Mabombo – Manager at vice-chancellor Buhlungu's office 

Mabombo is described by the Unisa Graduate School of Business Leadership (SBL) as a "well-rounded" professional with more than 20 years of experience in the education, training and development field. SBL also said Mabombo is a certified transformation life coach, a motivational speaker and a mentor.

Mbulelo Gingcana  – Fort Hare acting fleet manager  

Gingcana is also the former senior manager of supply chain management at the SA Civil Aviation Authority and former Prasa manager who admitted at the Zondo commission that Bosasa installed security equipment at his residence at a cost of over R239,000.

In 2023, while acting as a fleet manager at Fort Hare, the institution reportedly invested R3m in student and staff mobility after taking ownership of four new commuter buses. The university news site quoted Gingcana as saying the fleet replacement plan was started by the late fleet manager Petrus Roets, who was assassinated in May 2022 for allegedly blocking payment to a company he flagged.

Nkateko Mawila  – Mawila was a manager of the university's finance department

Terrence Joubert –  A sole director of a company based in KZN and who also appeared at the state capture inquiry. Joubert, then working for the NPA, was previously charged with corruption, and caught in a sting operation but the case was bungled because police didn't follow procedure in the sting operation.  

Nthabiseng Makhoba – Contractor

Makhoba has six companies registered under her name which include EL Reign, Indalo Projects and Services, and Nkosazana Yesizwe, among others. All the companies are based in Heidelberg, Gauteng. 

Sarah Burger – Contractor

Burger is the owner of Horizon Forensics which is based in the Western Cape. 

Bradley Conradie –  Partner at BCHC, a law firm

Conradie is a partner at BCHC – a legal firm that states on its website that its clients include universities, multi-national companies, large corporates, medium-sized businesses, government departments, municipalities and state-owned enterprises.

According to his profile, Conradie has more than 20 years experience as a labour lawyer. He is a co-author of Labour Relations Law: A Comprehensive Guide (Lexis Nexis) and a co-author of Strikes and the Law (Lexis Nexis). He also acted as a labour court judge and was a national president and honorary member of the South African Society for Labour Law.