A marathon corruption case in the Free State involving dodgy tenders awarded by the province’s department of education has culminated in the conviction of a close associate of Premier Ace Magashule.
Mohlouoa “Blacky” Seoe, a former business partner of both Magashule and one of his sons, Tshepiso, was found guilty on charges of corruption, fraud and other related crimes in the Free State High Court in Bloemfontein in February.
Seoe is the same Free State businessman who can be seen on CCTV video footage accompanying the premier and officials from the Free State Development Corporation (FDC) on a site visit to a Shell fuel station in Phuthaditjhaba in the eastern Free State in 2014.
News24 recently revealed that Magashule’s daughter secured the fuel station in a questionable property deal with the FDC.
Seoe, who is a former chairperson of the FDC, was first implicated in a corruption racket back in 2001 along with 12 co-accused, including Tebogo Lioma, the provincial education department’s former deputy director-general.
The court has now found Seoe and one of his co-accused guilty of bribing Lioma in order to influence a tender for learning materials awarded to a company called Mabolela Distributors by the provincial education department in 2001.
The court also found that Mabolela Distributors was a front set up by Seoe, resulting in a guilty conviction on a count of fraud.
The contract awarded to Mabolela formed part of tenders worth around R30m awarded to several companies by Lioma’s department.
Seoe was also convicted on counts of money laundering and racketeering resulting from the corrupt tender.
Seoe and his 12 co-accused will be sentenced in May. Virginia Moseia, Seoe’s former wife, is among the accused.
In 2013, Seoe and Moseia unsuccessfully applied for a permanent stay of prosecution.
Links to the premier
The controversial Free State businessman is linked to Magashule and his family.
In 2011, amaBhungane reported that Magashule’s office had signed off on a government lease deal with Sambal Investment, a company in which the premier and Seoe were once co-directors.
Company records also show that Seoe and Tshepiso Magashule, the premier’s eldest son, were co-directors in a company called Chitoss Trading. This company was deregistered in 2015.
Seoe was also present when Magashule and his daughter, Thoko Malembe, along with officials from the FDC, visited the Shell fuel station in Phuthaditjhaba in 2014.
The MMAT Trust, of which Malembe is a trustee, bought this property from the FDC in a questionable deal that saw the trust pocket R9m as a result of a favourable lease agreement with Shell. Malembe’s trust also bought the fuel station site from the FDC with the upfront rental it received from Shell.
Magashule’s daughter has done at least one business deal with Seoe.
According to deeds records, her MMAT Trust in 2017 bought a property in the Free State town of Kestell from Robs Properties, a company of which Seoe is the sole director.
Seoe put the phone down when News24 phoned him for comment. He did not respond to a request for comment sent to him through WhatsApp.
“The honourable premier is aware that a Mr Seoe has been convicted of a crime or crimes, the details of which are not known to the honourable premier,” said Tiisetso Makhele, Magashule’s spokesperson.
Makhele said that there is no relationship between Magashule and Seoe, despite the company records that indicate they were once business partners. Makhele did not respond to a query about why Seoe and Magashule had visited the Shell fuel station in Phuthaditjhaba together.
“In regard to the premier’s son, you should be aware of the Provisions of the Executive Ethics Code, issued in terms of the Executive Members’ Ethics Act, in terms of which the details of the financial interests of a child of the Member of the Executive is confidential and access to that information is limited to only the Public Protector and the Secretary of the Executive Council,” claimed Makhele. — News 24