Ex-Thulamela Municipal Manager, Hlengani Emmanuel Maluleke was sentenced to five years imprisonment over the VBS scandal. However, the sentence was wholly suspended for five years. On the condition that Maluleke was not convicted for a similar offence during the period of suspension.

The state entered into a plea and sentence agreement with Maluleke who pleaded guilty to the offence of contravening the Municipal Finance Management Act(MFMA).

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He was out on R30 000 bail after he was arrested by HAWKS in February 2022. This was for his role in approving an unlawful investment to VBS Mutual Bank since VBS was not a bank. As defined in the Banks Act.

The Thulamela Municipality in Limpopo did not suffer any loss. The R30 million investment matured and yielded an interest amounting to R735 542.50. The investment and the interest were then paid back to the municipality.

The Investigations revealed that the municipality had illegally invested R30 million into VBS for a period of three months. Furthermore, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) did not recommend that the money should be invested with VBS. Instead, he recommended Standard Bank.

On 23 December 2016, the accused overruled the recommendation of the CFO and the accused authorised the opening of an interest-bearing three-month Fixed Deposit account, in the name of Thulamela Municipality, as a result of political pressure.

EX-THULAMELA MUNICIPALITY MANAGER GETS SUSPENDED SENTENCE OVER VBS SCANDAL

By doing so the accused did not take reasonable steps to ensure that the resources of the Thulamela Municipality were used effectively, efficiently, and economically and acted in a grossly negligent way in contravention of MFMA.

Advocate, Hein van der Merwe, submitted that the offence is prevalent in this jurisdiction. The accused was not the only Municipal Manager who succumbed to political pressure and authorised unlawful investments with VBS.

The conduct of the accused and other municipalities that invested in this unlawful way resulted in vast public outcry due to losses suffered by innocent clients.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Advocate Ivy Thenga, welcomed the sentence. She said this would send a message to public officials that contravening the legislative frameworks governing their conduct would not be left unpunished. She further commended Hein van der Merwe, Ms Hilke Meyer and the investigation team led by Lieutenant Colonel Anton White from the Hawks.

The state brought an application for separation of the trial of accused one from accused two. Another accused Avhashoni Tshifhango will appear on 29 and 30 January 2024 for trial facing one count of corruption.