MEC makes court appearance

The National Prosecuting Authority regional spokesperson Phaladi Shuping says the state believes the reinstated corruption, money laundering and fraud charges against Free State MEC for Sports, Arts and Culture Mathabo Leeto and co-accused Limakatso Moorosi is watertight. Leeto and Bloem Water CEO Moorosi appeared briefly at the Bloemfontein Magistrate Court today. Magistrate Marline Marais told the accused that the case has been referred to the Bloemfontein High Court where a pre-trail will be conducted on March 02.

Shuping said the reinstatement of charges against the MEC and her co-accused follows new evidence surfaced during police investigation. “We have new evidence that had surfaced during police investigation which link the both accused to the case and led to their arrest. We have a watertight case now,” said Shuping. In 2008, Leeto was the mayor of Matjhabeng Local Municipality – while Moorosi was the CFO at the same time – when she allegedly awarded a tender of R15-million to procure photocopy machines and to install telephonic systems, as well as CCTV cameras for the municipality, allegedly without following proper tender processes.

It is further alleged that the two received “gratifications” from the company. Charges against Leeto – who seemed relaxed and confidently making jokes with photographers during today’s appearance – comes at the time when her campaign to replace former Free State ANC chairperson Ace Magashule as the provincial boss is in full swing. Leeto has been tipped by some as a contender for ANC top job in the province. At the beginning of last month she went on to tell the Sowetan publication that her endorsement to the post does not imply she is a Magashule loyalist.

However, during her court appearance today, none of the ANC members were seen in support of her and the court room was dominated by Economic Freedom Fighter (EFF) members – including its provincial secretary Mandisa Makheseli and the Democratic Alliance leader in the legislature Roy Jankielsohn. She was previously arrested and the case was subsequently withdrawn in 2016 after her lawyers made representations while Moorosi did not face charges at the time.

However, soon after her appearance, Leeto – through her department’s spokesperson Tankiso Zola – released a statement saying she welcomed the directive by the NPA for her to appear in court and will fully cooperate with the law enforcement agencies and the courts. “I'm ready for my day in court. Appearance in court does not translate into one being necessarily guilty. Courts were established for the sole purpose of determining the guilt or innocence of individuals," reads the statement.

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