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Former Mayor Of Ingwe Municipality Sentenced To Five Years In Jail For Fraud

The former mayor of Ingwe municipality in KwaZulu-Natal, Nomagugu Luzulane, has been sentenced to an effective five years in jail after being convicted of stealing funds meant for the poor. Luzulane was found guilty of fraud involving R71,500 and contraventions of the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA).

The case revolved around the implementation of Operation Mbo, an outreach programme aimed at assisting needy individuals in the Ingwe municipality with food parcels. The facts presented during the trial revealed that the money intended for this initiative was misappropriated and used to fund a funeral for a relative of a local councillor.

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Although Luzulane did not dispute the theft of the funds, she claimed that she was not involved and argued that the charges were politically motivated. During the trial, allegations of a romantic relationship between Luzulane and the councillor were made, which she vehemently denied.

Magistrate Garth Davis, presiding over the case, summarised the evidence and stated that most of the stolen money was used to purchase luxury items from a local grocery store. The funds were spent on catering, sound equipment, and tent hire for the funeral.

Testimonies from Luzulane’s personal assistant and another witness further implicated the former mayor. The personal assistant stated that she had received a list of needy individuals from her boss, but the necessary documentation was missing.

She filled out a requisition, which was approved by the municipal manager, and sent the order form to a grocery store. However, instead of the families collecting the parcels from the store, Luzulane instructed her assistant to collect them.

Another witness, a caterer who had since passed away, provided a statement to the police, confirming that Luzulane had requested catering services for the funeral. The caterer was instructed to include “Operation Mbo” on the invoice.

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After considering all the evidence, Magistrate Davis dismissed Luzulane’s claims of a political conspiracy and found her guilty. During the sentencing, he emphasised that Luzulane, as the leader of the council responsible for the governance of the municipality, had committed fraud and was guilty of maladministration.

The probation officer presented a victim statement from the municipal manager, highlighting Luzulane’s breach of trust and requesting a sentence that would send a strong message to the public and municipal employees that crime does not pay.

Luzulane’s attorney argued for a non-custodial sentence, citing her current occupation as an educator and the absence of any further criminal behaviour in the past 11 years. However, the state contended that imprisonment was the appropriate punishment for such serious offences.

Magistrate Davis acknowledged that although the amount stolen was not significant compared to other cases in commercial crime courts, Luzulane’s actions were unconscionable as she had stolen from the most vulnerable. He emphasised that personal circumstances should not overshadow the seriousness of the offence and the interests of society.

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Luzulane was ultimately sentenced to seven years, with two years suspended for five years, for the fraud charges. Additionally, she received a three-year sentence for contraventions of the MFMA. The sentences will run concurrently, resulting in an effective five-year imprisonment.

Luzulane began serving her sentence immediately, but there is a possibility that she may apply for leave to appeal the sentence and for bail pending the outcome of the appeal.

This case serves as a reminder that elected political leaders have a duty to act in the best interests of their communities and that fraud and corruption will not be tolerated. The sentencing sends a clear message that those who abuse their positions for personal gain will face the consequences of their actions.

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Keitumetse Modise for SurgeZirc SA
Keitumetse Modise for SurgeZirc SA
Keitumetse Modise is a passionate and dedicated local news writer who brings the latest news and updates from your community straight to your doorstep. With years of experience in journalism, Keitumetse has established herself as a reliable source of information, covering a wide range of topics that matter to you.
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